Fertilife is an American company doing business in the United States and Canada. They specialize in creating fertilizers that make plants grow faster and bigger than usual. Given the laws protecting the environment and citizens in the U.S. and Canada, the company is limited as to how inventive it can get with the process for creating the fertilizers. Given this situation, the company wants to expand its business into a country that has fewer regulations. They discover that there is currently a fertilizer plant in Mexico that is struggling financially. Fertilife representatives travel to Mexico and make a deal with the current owner of the plant. In that deal, the owner will be paid a modest sum for the plant, its current supplies and methods, but he asks that as part of the deal the company retain all of the current employees in their current positions and with their current benefits. Retaining the employees is not part of the written contract, but the company’s agents assure the owner that their word is sufficient. The owner agrees to the contract, and receives his modest payment.
For the first month the plant remains the same. However, Fertilife decided to bring some of its employees from the United States and Canada to do the managerial work. They demoted all of the Mexican employees in the managerial positions and put them to work with the rest of the employees. They also decided to make a few cut backs in what the lower-ranked employees would receive. For instance, the previous owner cared about all of his workers and provided drinks and ice for them to enjoy during their hard day of working at the plant. Fertilife decided they could no longer afford these luxuries. They also began a program where the lower-ranked Mexican employees would have to sleep in the plant in tiny quarters from Monday to Saturday and could only go back home on Sunday mornings and come back on Sunday nights. The food the lower-ranked Mexican employees were given was subpar, and their sleeping quarters were very small and damp. The American and Canadian employees, on the other hand, had many paid benefits, were allowed to travel home on a regular basis, and had a huge mansion where they got to sleep and were provided with the best food available. Additionally, the regulations in Mexico regarding waste disposal are very low in comparison to those of the United States and Canada. Fertilife is complying with the minimum requirements under Mexican law by throwing the substances into the river found behind the plant and running into a nearby town (which is much cheaper than other alternatives); however, the chemicals are killing the wild life inside the river, and the people in the nearby town (who have always used the river as their main water source) are getting massively sick after drinking the water from the river.
You are an employee of Fertilife and the company public relations department asks you to conduct research and to write a report for the company addressing the following issues: (a) what are the ethical implications of the company’s behavior in regards to the employees, (b) using the theoretical perspectives that you have found through your research and/or learned in this course, describe whether what the company is doing in regards to the employees is permissible and/or right, or whether it must and/or should change its behavior, (c) what are the ethical implications of the company’s behavior in regards to the waste disposal, (d) using such theoretical perspectives describe whether what the company is doing in regards to the waste disposal is permissible and/or right, or whether it must and/or should change its behavior, (e) make sure to discuss the economic/financial motivations, environmental considerations, health, emotional and moral considerations that the company must take into account for both topics (treatment of employees and waste disposal).
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