Ethics in the Hospital Environment

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits discrimination related to compensation, working conditions, or certain privileges for individuals over the age of 40 that work for employers with 20 or more employees (Mathis & Jackson). It is a federal law, thus it applies to all businesses across the United States fitting the profile of 20 or more employees. A situation occurred where those individuals who were considered a protected class against the ADEA filed suit alleging reverse discrimination based on benefits provisions and early retirement benefits options. At General Dynamics Land Systems, the company decided it would be in the best interest of the business to alter the retiree health care benefits scheme. Full health care benefits were to be provided upon signing the new General Dynamics contract, but only if the individual was 50 years of age or older (Zink, 2006). Ultimately, this case was dismissed by the Circuit Court, citing that reverse discrimination was not allowed under the ADEA. However, the younger workers were allowed to pursue their reverse discrimination suit citing other legal precedents. This particular case was chosen for analysis because many organizations, in fear of receiving liability outcomes, will deny opportunities to younger workers in favor of those in an age-related protected class. Though General Dynamics does not necessarily fit this profile, it was necessary to show how the language of the ADEA and similar legislation can be misinterpreted so that younger workers miss out on many workplace opportunities because of how the language is spelled out.&nbsp.Consider the following case that did meet with a victory in the court system alleging reverse discrimination, where the business did deny opportunities to a non-protected class in favor of avoiding liability. The New Haven Fire Department had established a proficiency test to determine which firefighter candidates were most qualified to receive promotions. Detailed steps were undertaken to ensure that the tests were unbiased, “including painstaking analyses to ensure the tests were relevant to show whether the applicants were qualified” (Carlson, 2009, p.32). Twenty different firefighters, most of whom were white, were the only group that scored high enough on the tests to guarantee promotional opportunities while those of protected minority classes failed the examinations (Mahony, 2011).&nbsp.The firefighters sued under the grounds of reverse discrimination when the New Haven Fire Department scrapped the examinations on the basis of the final results in which only white employees scored high enough. This case moved all the way to the Supreme Court who found that the business had indeed conducted unethical reverse discrimination and ordered the department to pay the workers $2 million in damages (Mahony). After the ruling, the department reinstated the validity of the test results and actually promoted 14 of the 20 different firefighters who had scored high on the exam, which had been well-crafted for validity. In this particular case, the fire department was highly unethical as it was concerned about its reputation and potential liabilities associated with race-and-hiring laws. As a proactive step, the organization simply decided to make the test results null and void, which denied individuals opportunities in favor of ethnic minority groups.&nbsp.

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