04 Worker Rights & Working Conditions - Free.doc
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Privacy is a cornerstone of our society, as Americans we value privacy above many other natural rights. We each have a right to protect and control certain information about ourselves and who can have access to that information. Our personal decisions should be autonomous and free from illegitimate influence (Shaw & Barry, 2007, p.329). Organizations have a legitimate interest in situations which significantly influence the performance of their employees while on the job, but the understanding of what "significantly influence" means may differ between the employer and their employees. The actions of employers in gaining agreement from their employees to submit to drug testing can be considered coercive when one considers the relationship between the employer and employees. Although the relationship should be one of mutual consent and partnership, the fact that employees may be subject to termination for not submitting to drug testing, makes the consent obtained seem more likely undue coercion (Shaw & Barry, 2007, p. 364). Employees may feel obliged or even pressured to take a drug test or risk the loss of their job. In these instances, the consent may not be informed. Although we value and guard our privacy, at times it may be necessary to give up that right for the greater good.
364). Take for instance a Drug Enforcement Agency officer, if these individuals will come in constant contact with illegal narcotics, it would be prudent to ensure that they do not have a drug addiction and could possibly be a threat to other officers if they began to partner with drug dealers, steal confiscated drugs or could possibly behave in way detrimental to their colleagues due to intoxication. Only in such situations would drug testing be reasonable and morally justifiable. When justifying drug testing as a way to prevent harm, we must consider that most roles do not necessitate the need to be drug free. Employers are only justified in the expectation that their staff perform at a reasonable level. If drug use causes their employees to perform below required norms, than they should attempt to assist their employee in reaching acceptable performance levels or terminate the working relationship. Regardless of the reason for sub-par performance employers have a right to terminate the relationship, but invasion of privacy should not be a means to that end (Shaw & Barry, 2007, p. 361). Drug testing should not be within the rights or expectations of the employer and should only be engaged when absolutely necessary. When drug testing is deemed necessary, it should be completed in strict compliance with policies which restrict its scope and intrusiveness (Shaw & Barry, 2007, p.
Companies reason that the use of polygraph testing during the pre-employment process can aid them is screening out potentially costly (i.e.: drug users, the dishonest and the unethical) or inappropriate (i.e.: incompatible philosophies, behavioral patters, character traits for the organization) applicants (Shaw & Barry, 2007, p. 332). Polygraph testing has not been shown to be 100% accurate (Shaw & Barry, 2007, p. 330). The inaccuracy of these tests would subject many individuals to unjustified restriction from employment opportunities and cause the organization to potentially miss the prospect of hiring many capable and beneficial staff. Polygraph testing infringes on an individual's privacy in the most intrusive ways. They invade an individual's most private thoughts and beliefs, many of which have no relevance to the job they are applying for. No one can forecast how an individual will perform on their job simply by administering a test that monitors physiological changes during questioning, especially during a usually stressful situation (i.e. interviewing for a job). Even when an applicant submits to a polygraph test or any pre-employment testing for that matter, there may be subtle influence or pressure involved, making that submission less consensual and more coerced (Shaw & Barry, 2007, p. 332. The applicant has only two choices, submit to the test, or go look for a job somewhere else. When economic restraints are involved, there really is no choice.
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