Thursday, April 19, 2018

Sexual Harasment at Berklee College (2017)

Controversy

Over 10 years, there allegedly has been misconduct among faculty members and students of Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. According to the school president Roger Brown, 11 faculty members have been terminated. Prior to the termination, students led a march to stand against the lack of listening ears by administration. Hundreds of students attended the march. One main reason the march took place was because the school's president Roger Brown allowed the faculty members who were accused of such misconduct to "quietly leave" the school and positions. The uproar augmented when students found this out, understanding this should not be stuck in the silence.


Stakeholders

There are many stakeholders affiliated to this case, both inside and outside campus. First, let's consider the students that were sexually harassed and assaulted. Obviously, they have been directly involved in the issue on campus, now traumatized and torn emotionally, physically, and mentally. The families and friends of those affected first-hand are also torn. Trust throughout the entire campus among students and faculty has shifted, and the college itself now has broken reputation. Investors that help fund the school are less likely to contribute to funding programs and expenses. High-school students are more likely to consider the inappropriate incidents and less likely to enroll in classes at Berklee.


Individualism

Individualism has one thing in mind and one thing only- money. Maximizing profits is the number one concern for individualists, and I believe they would agree with the decision of firing the abusive staff members. If they were to keep those staff members, practically everyone would completely discredit the college for not properly handling the situations, thus preventing students from wanting to attend Berklee College. Ultimately, losing money from students and investors.



Kantianism

A Kantian is concerned with four main ideas or obligations. These four ideas include acting rational, behave with intentions of goodwill, allow and assist others to make their own rational decisions, and respect people, their autonomy, and individual. Now, the sexual harassment acts totally violate the respecting autonomy and individual aspect. The termination was a very rational decision made by administration is backed by good intentions, and was a very rational decision.There must be consequences for the actions the faculty enforced.


Utilitarianism

This theory relies all on happiness of oneself and others. Termination has made more people content than disappointed. The act of firing the unethical individuals has made students, parents, staff, and hundreds or others feel lighter on the entire situation. Unfortunately, we cannot make everyone happy in this situation because clearly there are two opposing forces and horrible actions have occurred.


Virtue Theory

The Virtue Theory focuses primarily on doing/having goodwill whenever possible. A virtue theorist would agree with firing the faculty member that have sexually abused the students. Any other minor consequence of less discipline would not be very credible, nor fair.


Works Cited:

Lazar, Kay. “Berklee President: 11 Faculty Members Have Been Terminated in 13 Years for Sex Assault, Harassment - The Boston Globe.” BostonGlobe.com, 13 Nov. 2017, www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2017/11/13/berklee-school-music-president-hold-meeting-monday-sex-harassment-campus/wXBMrQVkSz968DA3OixqMP/story.html.

Larimer, Sarah. “Boston's Berklee College of Music Reeling amid Sexual Misconduct Allegations Involving Professors.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 14 Nov. 2017, www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2017/11/14/bostons-berklee-college-of-music-reeling-amid-sexual-misconduct-allegations-involving-professors/?noredirect=on.

Hahn, Chae. “Berklee College of Music President Apologizes amid Widening Sexual Misconduct Scandal.” The Daily Pennsylvanian, www.thedp.com/article/2017/11/berklee-college-music-sexual-assault-scandal.

LaFratta, Kristin. “Berklee College of Music President Apologizes after Report Reveals 11 Faculty Members Fired for Sexual Harassment, Assault.” Masslive.com, Masslive.com, 16 Nov. 2017, www.masslive.com/news/boston/index.ssf/2017/11/berklee_college_of_music_addre.html.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Disney's Nutrition Study Scandal (2016)


Controversy


Mickey Mouse themed waffles served at Disney World
The Walt Disney Company has been a multi-media empire since its founding in 1923, and generates over $36 million in revenue a day. According to the Walt Disney Company website, their mission statement is "to be one of the world's leading producers and providers of entertainment and information. Using our portfolio of brands to differentiate our content, services and consumer products, we seek to develop the most creative, innovative and profitable entertainment experiences and related products in the world." Their business portfolio consists of media networks such as ABC, Freeform, and ESPN, while their parks, experiences, and consumer products consist of Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise Line, and the Disney store, along with many other amusement park locations around the globe. 

On April 8, 2016, an article was published with information that the company had pressured an academic journal to withdraw a study children’s meal nutrition. According to the article, Disney was not worried about the contents of the study, but rather feared being associated with one of the study’s main authors, James Hill. Dr. Hill, a professor at the University Of Colorado School Of Medicine, had his last work, a project on sugary drinks and obesity funded by Coca Cola, opposed by fellow scientists in his field who felt that the results were tampered with.  This study had some bias in Coca Cola’s favor as Hill and his team determined that an increase of exercise could counteract eating and drinking sugary and fattening food.

STAT obtained emails between Disney and the study’s authors asking them to withdraw the meal study, regardless of an editor’s warnings of negative PR. Although no information has been revealed about Disney’s involvement with the study, if any at all, but this study shows how corporate sponsors and researchers interact with one another. When a Disney spokesman spoke on the issue, he wanted to reiterate that the questioning wasn’t about the study’s result, but rather Hill’s participation in the study.

Disney has their nutrition guidelines posted on their website now in 2018, which states that "Disney champions the happiness and well-being of kids, parents, and families, and will support healthy lifestyles for all ages by offering and portraying a balance of nutritious options." These guidelines later say that "virtually all of our food or beverage related promotions and sponsorships meet these Guideline. The few exceptions are generally a result of pre-existing contractual obligations." Although they state that they regularly re-evaluate their guidelines for nutrition, it is clear that other things have been done to meet these guidelines, and that they were not living up to the company's mission statement when they suppressed the study from being released.

Stakeholders

Dr. James O. Hill: Professor of Pediatrics & Medicine,
Director Center for Human Nutrition, Director of the
Colorado Clinical Nutrition Research Unit
Many different stakeholders are effected by the ethical dilemma extend far beyond the stockholders. Shareholders of Disney, however, trust the company to be truthful on its studies, including knowing the procedures about how to fund them. Regardless of the true implications, a company funded study should not be pressured into not releasing the results as it is unethical and can cause stakeholders to loose trust in the company. The customers who go to Disney’s amusement parks are also affected by these decisions. Many common diseases can be managed or avoided altogether, including (but not limited to) certain cancers, high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Most people have at least a fundamental understanding of nutrition, and people who are more likely to get these types of diseases pay attention to every detail about food they are eating. Especially while at a new location that serves food, people want to see the nutritional facts of the food they are are eating, and  they have a right to know so they can stay healthy. When nutrition studies are under pressure to be held from publication, it causes these customers to not trust companies.

Individualism


An Individualist would think this case is ethical. According to Friedman’s individualism theory the only goal of business is to profit, so the obligation that the business person has is to maximize profit for the owner and/or stockholders. By dissociating itself from Hill and his team, Disney was doing the profitable thing by trying to avoid itself from someone who was part of an ethical controversy with another company. Disney spent  $2 billion dollars on advertising in 2016, and when compared to the previous four years, is substantially higher. This increase in spending can be associated with this ethical dilemma and the need to keep people coming to their parks. This move by Disney paid off as they were able to generate $55.63 billion in global revenue in 2016, which can be attributed to both the increased spending in advertising and the disassociation of Hill.

This was also the ethical choice based on the reputation of the company. In 2016, Forbes named Disney the second most reputable company in the world, which is higher than their 2015 ranking at sixth. This shows that the Walt Disney company has a high reputation around the world, specifically between the sales of motion pictures and the attraction to the amusement parks. With the disassociation of Hill, and the company's ability to advertise more, this can still be considered ethical. Based on Hill's reputation with his Coca Cola scandal, Disney had no choice but to disassociate itself from the study. By asking the publisher into not releasing the study, Disney was saving money and its reputation, all while staying within the law.

Kantianism


Mickey Mouse themed oranges 
According to a Kantianist, this case is unethical because of it violates the basic principles that Kantianism is based on. These four principles are act rationally, allow and help people to make rational decisions, respect people, their autonomy, and their individual needs and differences, and be motivated by good will. Because Disney attempted to withhold information, both the results of the study and the association with those who conducted the study, they are not allowing people to make rational decisions, nor acting rationally as a company. To act ethically in this situation, it would have been better to release the study, but also announce the association with Hill and his team and that the company chose poorly in their decision to work with them. In this hypothetical situation, people would be able to make a decision on the study themselves and Disney would have been motivated by good will to stay true to publishing the results of the study and help people make the decisions they want.

With Kantian ethics in mind, it is important to note the formula of humanity. According to Kant, the formula of humanity refers to "act[ing] in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of another, always at the same time as an end and never simply as a means." In this sense, 'end' refers to something valuable in itself, for it's own sake, while 'means' refers to something that is valuable as a way to get something else. Disney compromised the study about nutrition by both hiring Hill in the first place, then again by suppressing the study's publication. By doing this, they are trying to get people to purchase food at their amusement parks that may be unhealthy for them, and has caused the nutrition details to be compromised overall.

Utilitarianism


Utilitarianism looks at the overall happiness of the stakeholders and attempts to maximize that happiness. With this decision to suppress the publication, the stakeholders would not be happy, thus it is unethical in this form of ethics. As mentioned above, the shareholders who hold stock in the Walt Disney company, this sort of scandal can cost thousands, even million of dollars in financial lost. The long term security that people try to achieve by investing in Disney can be dismantled by scandals like this. It raises the question "What else have they suppressed?" and "what will they suppress in the future regardless of them being caught once?" These types of questions can cause reputation to collapse and the benefit of shareholders investments to be stripped from the company.

More importantly, the customers who eat at the amusement parks can't trust the study's outcome, and with the publication being suppressed, they can't make decisions rationally. When people have diseases, or are trying to avoid diseases, that are depended on nutrition, scandals like this cause them to loose faith in the company, which in turn can cause them to avoid going to the amusement parks, cruises, resorts, and other themed locations that Disney owns. Disney, in turn, should have attempted to maximize happiness in both the stakeholders and the company by publicly denouncing the study with an explanation as to why they believe the study should be discredited. By doing this, customers would have the ability to be happy by making their own decisions, while the company would be happy by clearly separating themselves from Hill and his past scandals. 

Virtue Theory


The Virtue Theory is a theory based on Aristotle's ethics, and focuses around the the characteristics that allow things to function properly, or virtues as the name suggests. Virtues depend on the thing's function and the thing's circumstances, and to determine how to act in any situation, the mean between the extremes must be found, then acted upon. The four main characteristics are honesty, courage, justice, and temperance. 

Honesty can sway from absolute honesty and absolute dishonesty, and in this circumstance, Disney did not act honestly, but acted more towards the dishonesty side of the scale. By suppressing Hill's study from release by pressuring the publishing company, Disney was not honest towards their stakeholders. They attempted to withhold information about Hill's past and the association with Hill to begin with, and therefore were not acting according to this theory.  The extremes of courage range from cowardice to rashness, and in this situation Disney was acting rash in their decision to cover up the study. By acting quickly and not taking time to come up with a better solution, the company ended up digging themselves into a deeper hole with their stakeholders and could of caused some serious damage to the financials or their reputation. The courageous action would of been to make a public announcement explaining the situation with Hill and how, in the companies opinion, the study should be repealed and conducted with someone more credible as to allow the stakeholders to make their own decisions, while also gaining a better reputation for the company. With justice ranging from righteousness to corruption, it is clear to see that Disney was more towards the corruption side of the scale.

Even with temperance, Disney was not ethical in its decision making. Temperance, or self restraint, covers everything from abstinence to radicalness. Disney was radical in their decision to suppress the study's release, which goes against this theory and, again, could have acted in a more ethical way with some patience and a public announcement. Based off of these four basic virtues, it is clear that Disney was not ethical in their decision to pressure the the publisher about this study.
References

“About - Leadership, Management Team, Global, History, Awards, Corporate Responsibility.” The Walt Disney Company, www.thewaltdisneycompany.com/about/.

Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “Consumers - Using the Nutrition Facts Label: A How-To Guide for Older Adults.” U S Food and Drug Administration Home Page, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm267499.htm.

“Healthy Theme Park Meals?” Food and Brand Lab, 2016, foodpsychology.cornell.edu/JACR/Disney.

Kaplan, Sheila. “Disney Tried to Suppress Nutrition Study on Its Theme Park Meals.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, 8 Apr. 2016, www.pbs.org/newshour/health/disney-tried-to-suppress-nutrition-study-on-its-theme-park-meals.

O’Connor, Anahad. “Coca-Cola Funds Scientists Who Shift Blame for Obesity Away From Bad Diets.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 9 Aug. 2015, well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/08/09/coca-cola-funds-scientists-who-shift-blame-for-obesity-away-from-bad-diets/.

Olinger, David. “CU Nutrition Expert Accepts $550,000 from Coca-Cola for Obesity Campaign.” The Denver Post, The Denver Post, 6 June 2016, www.denverpost.com/2015/12/26/cu-nutrition-expert-accepts-550000-from-coca-cola-for-obesity-campaign/.

Olinger, David. “CU Nutrition Expert Who Took Coca-Cola Money Steps Down.” The Denver Post, The Denver Post, 6 June 2016, www.denverpost.com/2016/03/23/cu-nutrition-expert-who-took-coca-cola-money-steps-down/.

Rucker, Robert B., and Michael R. Rucker. “Nutrition: Ethical Issues and Challenges.” Nutrition Research, Elsevier, 20 Oct. 2016, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0271531716302081.


Strauss, Karsten. “The World's Most Reputable Companies, 2016.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 13 Apr. 2016, www.forbes.com/sites/karstenstrauss/2016/03/22/the-worlds-most-reputable-companies-2016/#476025e23389.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

J.P. Morgan And Chase Bribes High Powered Relatives With Big Jobs


JP Morgan and Chase in the years of 2006 through 2012 was involved in
a bribery scandal (SEC.gov). JP Morgan’s Asia-Pacific region was
investigated in 2013 and later found guilty (Nytimes.com). Asia-Pacific
executives were found guilty of creating a client referral program which
would grant job candidates referred to through the program with well-paying,
career advancing positions (SEC.gov) These candidates would take
precedence over job seekers who had to go through the normal hiring process.
Moreover, the client referral program was only offered to client executives and influential
persons within the government. So for six years the Asia-Pacific
sector was breaking protocol and affecting thousands of applicants
lives applying for the job. There is no doubt this act is impermissible
and arguably this stands true for most theories.
From an individualist standpoint the stakeholders are bank clients, bank
investors, executives, employees and community (These stakeholders stand
true for all schools of ethics). An individualist is business minded, believing
the only ethics in business is to make money and act within the confines of
the law. Knowing this is illegal, immediately points to impermissibility from an
individualist. From a utilitarian perspective at first glance seemingly impermissible
but when diving deep does make sense. A utilitarian would argue that by hiring
relatives of client executives and government influencers this makes not
only the new employee happy, but the clients of the bank and also the
company itself is put into a good position. This increases happiness for a
larger amount of people than just by hiring one person with no ties, that
being said it could be considered permissible. From a kant perspective
he would not consider this act permissible. As we know Kantian ethics is
derived from categorical imperatives, if it they are applicable to us and
we break it, it is ethically impermissible (csus.com). This case can be
summed up by a kant as follows: “You must follow hiring
procedures”, contradiction immediately arises. From a virtue perspective
it depends entirely on which branch of virtue you follow. Virtue theory
states you must be increasing your value of life in your actions. Meaning
a person must be doing what is best for them, but also being rational
(plato.stanford.edu). Keyword, being rational, the rationality of this situation
is grey area. One might claim it is not completely irrational, but for
a person to break the law in such a high position is a very high risk move.
Furthermore, this move does break several virtuous traits of business such as trust,
fairness and honesty. Making it a poor moral decision as it goes against necessary traits of
business. Thus, claimable as impermissible.





Works Cited

Hursthouse, Rosalind, and Glen Pettigrove. “Virtue Ethics.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy,
Stanford University, 18 July 2003, plato.stanford.edu/entries/ethics-virtue/.

“JPMorgan Chase Paying $264 Million to Settle FCPA Charges.” SEC, SEC, 17 Nov. 2016,       

“Utilitarianism.” Ethics Unwrapped, University of Texas,

“Kantian Ethics.” Csus, California State University Sacramento,

Stevenson, Ben Protess and Alexandra. “JPMorgan Chase to Pay $264 Million to Settle Foreign
Bribery Case.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 17 Nov. 2016,

GNC spiked and filler supplements (December 2016)

GNC spiked and filler supplements (2016)

One of the products under GNC's investigation
GNC is one of the biggest vitamin and supplement suppliers in the US. In the past years they have been at the center of the largest supplement scandals in recent years. It became known that GNC was selling products that were mislabeled and ingredients were tampered with using fillers. This was discovered near the beginning of 2016 and went all the way up until mid 2017. Many products were discovered to have this issue including their protein powders, fat burners, and multivitamins. A lot of these supplements contained ingredients such as wheat, soy, and branched chain amino acids (BCAA), and 1,3-dimethylamylamine (DMAA). These ingredients were added to supplements in order to cut down on margins when manufacturing these products, however the change of ingredients was not noted on the label and poses an issue when it comes to allergies in consumers and also potential heart attacks with the DMAA. The company claimed that they didn’t know what was in the capsules and powder, because they outsource ingredients form other companies. Once it was made public that this was going on, a lawsuit was filed against the company. It was filed with the department of justice and in the end, GNC was forced to pay a $2 million settlement. GNC has yet to release an apology as of right now but claims to stand by their products. 

Stakeholders

GNC HQ in Pittsburgh PA 
Many people were effected in this controversy. To start, the biggest group to be effected by this are those that took these products. GNC has tons of stores all across the US and sells to millions of people, and the products involved were some of their most popular items. The only reason this was discovered was that people reported health issues, so, many people had allergic reactions and issues after using the product. Not only does this cause an issue in those that bought the product and had issues, but also people who buy from GNC may have lost some trust in the company. Next, is the employees of GNC. With the company losing money in the lawsuit, it’s possible they could make up for the lose with layoffs of their employees. And finally, GNC’s top management. These were the people who chose to use this method in order to save them money. These managers have lost trust from its customers and lost the company money and potentially their own money. Overall, many people were involved in this issue and it branches across to many people’s lives. 

Individualism

In the theory of individualism, it is stated that a company is only obligated to maximize its profits for owners and stakeholders. However, even though financial gains are the main objective and an individualist would achieve that by any means, it is also noted that an individualist must also remain within the law while maximizing profits.  In this case, an individualist would say that this practice is not ethically permissible. It was GNC intent to maximize their profits on their products by making cuts and adding fillers and replacement ingredients to its products, however they didn’t label these changes and because of that they broke the second part of individualism and that is acting within the law. Even though they are not regulated by the FDA, like other food and drug companies, the fact that they did not label the fillers, stimulants, and decrease in the amount of other products means that they were at fault of false and misleading advertising. Since they knowingly didn’t label the new ingredients, their false advertisement posed a major health violation that the department of justice deemed their action as negligence, or failure to use reasonable care, resulting in damage or injury to another. Also, not only did they fail on the legal side of individualism, but they also lost the lawsuit and a $2 million settlement had to be paid. Any direct loss of money would be viewed by an individualist as stealing from the stakeholders in the company. To also add, because they were found to be at fault they also lost customers in the process, which would be a loss on potential future revenue. In the end, their intent to save money and maximize profit only lost them money directly as well as future sources of income. Overall, GNC acted in a way that individualists would claim to be an unethical action, due to the fact that they broke the law in the process, also, they failed to maximize profits by losing money in the lawsuit, as well as potential investments in the future.


Utilitarianism

The theory of utilitarianism revolves around the theory of maximizing happiness for all the stakeholders involved in the long run. In this case, a utilitarian would say that GNC’s actions were not ethically permissible. The reason for this is because by the end of the lawsuit none of the stakeholders involved had increased happiness. When analyzing a case from a utilitarian stand point one must look at all the consequences of the action whether they be good or bad. To start, GNC’s upper management made the choice to add fillers and stimulants. This gave them extra money at the time being so their happiness would have increased, however utilitarianism looks at the long-term effects. After the lawsuit, the company had lost money and was given a bad reputation, which would bring these top members of the company’s happiness down. Next, the customers were promised a product that would help them to achieve their fitness goals. They made purchases thinking they were being told exactly what they were getting, however once it was made public that this was not the case, the consumers were disappointed and overall happiness was not maximized. Also, those who were directly affected by these ingredient changes were hurt the most. The consumers who bought products that, unbeknown to them, contained ingredients that they were allergic to and had to be treated and/or rushed to the hospital. Some were even unknowingly over using the product because it contained DMAA and that caused health issues in people. If GNC had thought about the long-term effects rather than only focusing on the short term, they could have realized that their actions would be potentially dangerous for numerous customers by causing health issues, and that they would be losing out on money from the lawsuit and also lost current and potential customers. Overall, the long-term effects of GNC’s actions caused major issues with everyone involved from the top all the way to the bottom, and because of that no one’s overall happiness was increased and many were harmed in the process.


Kantianism

In Kantianism, the main focus falls on those behind the actions, in this case it would be the heads of GNC. Kantianism theory’s biggest aspects are to act rationally, inform consumers so they can make rational decisions for themselves, respect customers, and act on goodwill. When viewing the case from this point of view, in this case, a Kantian would say GNC’s actions were unethical. To start, GNC decided to make multiple changes to their formulas on several of their products in order to cut down on margins and increase profits. However they did not act rationally here, because they did not take into account what would happen to their customers if they made the changes in ingredients. Since GNC chose to not take factors other than money into account, they acted irrationally. Next, GNC added these ingredients, but did not list any of the changes on a new label and make that information obvious to the consumers. Without that information, a person lacks the ability to choose and act rationally when looking to buy GNC’s products. Their next failure was choosing to not inform their customers to help them act rationally. Also, GNC lacked in showing their customers respect. Them not listing changes to their product as well as the addition of potentially harmful fillers and stimulants shows a lack of respect for the wellbeing of its customers and paints an image that GNC does not care about helping its users achieve their goals. Finally, GNC also showed that their actions were not made with the intent of acting on goodwill. By choosing to be deceitful and cheap towards their customers, just goes to show that the only result GNC was looking for was a way to scam customers and make more money from it. They were more focused on their overall profit and in the process, did not take into consideration the respect that they are obligated to give to their customers. Due to GNC failing on all fronts of Kantianism, a Kantian would decide that GNC’s action were unethical.


Virtue Theory

Case examination through virtue theory focuses on the character of companies and how they reflect the companies’ values and standards. Virtue theory has four main focuses, which are courage, honesty, temperance, and justice. When looking at how GNC acted, it is easy to notice that they fall short on these characteristics and because of that a virtue theorists would say that they acted unethically. To start, GNC did not have the courage to make it known that they were adding ingredients and taking away others and come forward and tell their customers that the formula had changed, because of their fear of losing revenue because they would be producing a lesser quality product. Next, they were also obviously not honest about using fillers and stimulants in their product. Their dishonesty not only came from not mentioning the fillers, but also by stating that the nutrition facts were still the same and had the same benefits, when in reality it no longer was the case. Also, GNC showed a lack of moderation. Their lack of moderation showed when they decided to make financial savings at the customer’s expense, rather than finding methods within the company to do so, such as finding cheaper outsourcing companies or insourcing the ingredients all together. Finally, they disregarded justice by holding back information from their consumers. It was unjust of them to lie to the people that put the company where it is now and putting those same people’s health at risk all to save a few dollars per unit. After examining all of these characteristics and seeing how GNC lacks in each of them, it starts to paint a picture of what the company’s moral values are and what their real intent is. Since GNC failed across all aspects of virtue theory, it is clear to see that a virtue theorist would say that GNC’s actions were not ethically permissible based on this theory.

References

Maggie Fox, December 8, 2016.GNC agrees to pay $2 million fine and examine supplements it sells

Alison Young, October 23, 2015.Oregon AG accuses retailer GNC of selling drug-spiked dietary supplements

Gregory WallaceFebruary 4, 2015.Wal-mart, Target and others under fire for selling bogus supplements

February 3, 2015. Herbal supplements filled with fake ingredients, investigators find

David Kroll, February 9, 2015. Cease-And-Desist Orders Hit Walmart, Walgreens And Others For Herbal Supplement Sales

Anahad O’Connor, February 4, 2015.New York Attorney General Targets Supplements at Major Retailers
https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/02/03/new-york-attorney-general-targets-supplements-at-major-retailers/

April 12, 2018GNC (store)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNC_(store)

Aly Raisman: Lawsuit



Aly Raisman Sues United States Olympic Committee and U.S Gymnastics (March 2, 2018, Santa Clara County, California)

             Controversy: U.S Olympian, Aly Raisman, has pressed charges against the United States Olympic Committee and U.S Gymnastics. Larry Nassar, the former national team doctor, is now serving time in prison for sexually abusing young athletes. Raisman is enraged at these two organizations, for she believes they “knew” and or “should have known” about this unacceptable behavior (1). 
Image result for aly raisman sues olympicsAly Raisman is disgraced at the higher levels of the United States Olympic Committee, as she believes they were aware of Larry Nassar’s molestations towards gymnasts who participated with the U.S Gymnastics. USA Over 250 women, girls, males and other athletes, have experienced sexual mistreatment at the hands of Larry Nassar (2).  These victims serve as a large majority of the stakeholders impacted by this case. Olympians are role models to young athletes and spectators around the world.Therefore, it is difficult for them to bring light to such disgusting behavior. The Olympics are supposed to be a safe place for families and athletes of all nationalities. However, 
Nassar’s despicable behavior puts the reputation of the entire United States Olympic Committee at risk. Raisman’s lawsuit will be filed toward the U.S Olympics Committee and U.S Gymnastics for negligence of this behavior (1).
Image result for aly raisman sues olympics
 There are many prominent stakeholders in this case. First and foremost, the Olympic athletes who were negatively impacted by Nassar’s abusive behavior. These athletes were put in uncomfortable positions by someone that was supposed to be caring and trustworthy. Bringing attention to these issues can be intimidating and even terrifying. This occurred as they were already enduring the stress of being an Olympic athlete. In this case, Raisman serves as one of the many voices speaking for justice. Other specific victims include McKayla Maroney (former U.S Gymnast), Jacob Moore (Michigan), Jessica Thomashow (Michigan) and Katherine Ebert (Michigan). Nassar has a large list of victims and Raisman is enraged at the ability of these organizations to protect innocent people from Nassar’s abuse.Moreover, the United States Olympic Committee as well as the U.S Olympics are major stakeholders in this scenario. The Chief Executive of the U.S Olympic Committee, Scott Blackmun, stepped down due to a prostate cancer diagnosis. The entire U.S Olympic Committee, however, is facing sharp criticism (4). The top officials of both organizations have seemed to dwindle away. The U.S Olympic Committee also required the entire board of U.S Gymnastics to step down. The goal was to improve the organization and create a safer environment for athletes (6).  Members of the U.S Gymnastics Committee, including Steve Penny (former president), Paul Parilla (chairman of the board) and many others resigned from the board.  Raisman believes this is a result of the organizations avoiding to admit how much they knew about Nassar’s predatory behavior (2). The U.S Olympics Committee and U.S Gymnastics both failed to attend Raisman’s hearing on February 8, 2018. Six weeks later, Raisman sued these organizations. She claimed they were “unwilling to conduct a full investigation”. Her goal was to use the legal process to hold them accountable for their actions. Raisman is only one of about 250 women and girls who have sued Nassar and the organizations he affiliated with. (2). Overall, the U.S Olympics Committee and U.S Gymnastics are experiencing extreme backlash from many. Their public relations are at stake. They must react to the victims, their families, and all directly involved in the Olympics in order to further protect their reputation
Image result for aly raisman sues olympics
Individualism: This case is impermissible according to individualists. Individualism refers to the idea that behavior is acceptable as long as it maximizes profit and stays within the boundaries of the law. This case does not meet either of these qualifications.
Utilitarianism: According to utilitarianism, this case would be considered unethical. The goal of utilitarianism is to maximize happiness of those involved. The athletes involved with these incidents are certainly not happy. The  USOC is also unhappy because they are now losing money because they are being sued. The stakeholders in this case would all be negatively impacted emotionally. Therefore, according to utilitarianism, this would be ethically impermissible. 
Kantianism: A Kant would also deem this behavior to be ethically impermissible. Kantianism refers to the idea that people should not be treated as a means to an end. In this case, Aly Raisman believes the USOC were aware of the unacceptable behaviors occurring and chose to look away. The company did not go out of their way to address these claims and they went against the beliefs of Kantianism by not ensuring the safety and satisfaction of the athletes representing their company.
Virtue Theory: Virtue Theory emphasizes the importance of analyzing the situation itself and deciding if it honest and fair. In this case, the company did not address the situation in an honest manner. After many claims were made and they still failed to take proper action, Aly Raisman believed the only way to serve justice to these people would be by suing the company itself. 



Uber’s controversies with Asian Governments (Sept. 20, 2017)

The Case                                                                               Ubers Indonesian' Offices
Offices like these were kept by paying local officials to neglect
the fact that they were not in the correctly zoned area
            Recently Uber has exploded as a company and went from a small startup company in San Francisco to an international company with many different branches. Expanding this rapidly will always come with many obstacles and issues. Asia has been an area of issue for Uber since they started business there. Uber has had incidents and the past and is currently under investigation by the United States government. Uber is cooperating with the investigation therefore showing it did not intend for these incidents to happen. One of these issues was in Jakarta Indonesia, “Police officers said the space was outside city zoning for businesses, so an employee decided to dole out multiple, small payments to police to continue operating there, the people said. The transactions showed up on the employee’s expense reports, described as payments to local authorities” (Newcomer). Uber has fired this employee and has placed Alan Jiang, the person who oversaw the Indonesia branch as well as approving the expense report with these payments in it, on leave of absence.  One of the senior members of Uber chose not to report this to the U.S. officials even though he knew about it last year. They did however release the information when the Justice Department asked them about it, this will allow the justice department to be a little bit more lenient since they voluntarily told the department the information.
            The next incident that occurred was that Uber made a large donation to Malaysian Global Innovations and Creativity Centre. This company is designing the app that Uber will use in Asia. It is also a government backed entrepreneur hub in Malaysia. Within a short time after this, a donation by Kumpulan Wang Persaraan, a Malaysian pension fund, invested 30 million dollars in Uber. Due to the surfacing of the payments in Indonesia and the inquiries about the donation and then investment Uber has hired, “law firm O'Melveny & Myers LLP to review its Asia operations. It previously hired the firm to investigate how it obtained the medical records of an Indian woman who was raped by an Uber driver in 2014, Reuters reported in June” (CNBC). They will be looking to see if Uber broke the Foreign Corrupt Practices act (FGPA). This law makes it illegal for American companies to pay or bribe any foreign government. The probe is investigating this transaction and transactions like this one because, “Less than a year later, the Malaysian government passed national ride-hailing laws that were favorable to Uber and its peers. Lawyers are trying to determine whether there was any form of quid pro quo” (Newcomer). There are many red flags in this entire transaction and it does not help that there has already been bribery in Indonesia by Uber. It is said that two former executives of Uber, Emil Michael, and Eric Alexander, are to have played key roles on negotiating these deals. The Department of Justice, “is looking into potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which forbids US companies from paying bribes to foreign officials” (Price). Uber is excited to continue and build on their business in Asia. There was a post on their website saying that Uber appreciates, “the government’s support for the innovative business model that Uber represents; as an important driver of economic growth, providing new, cost-effective transportation options and helping address challenges of congestion and pollution” (Khera). Uber is also ready for the many regulations that do come with the passing of ride sharing in Asia. According to their website, their, “focus at this time will also be helping driver-partners efficiently and effectively make plans to transition to this new regulatory environment. (They) look forward to continuing (their) engagement with the Government on this” (Khera). The government although passing laws in favor of Uber has still put many regulations on the ride hailing industry. One of the regulations is from, “the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri said e-hailing companies will have to submit drivers’ identification to the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) to facilitate criminal checks to be carried out before these drivers are hired” (Jun). This is a reasonable regulation on the industry, it assures customers that the Uber drives will be trustworthy people. The regulations also include, “This bill will make it compulsory for e-hailing companies to have an intermediation business license and comply with conditions set by the Commercial Vehicles Licensing Board” (Jun). Due to this Uber will need to stay a licensed company throughout Asia in order to operate. Some of the regulations do benefit taxi drivers by reducing their checks from every six months to once a year. Another regulation that benefits taxis is that, “e-hailing drivers are only allowed to operate in the country while taxi drivers can take passengers to Singapore and Thailand due to a government-to-government agreement between Malaysia and the two neighboring countries” (Jun). When Malaysian Global Innovations and Creativity Centre was asked about these transactions their response was, “We strongly refute our involvement in any quid-pro-quo arrangements” (Newcomer). Most of these transactions show that there was some bribery occurring and from the outside looking in it seems that they had to pay off the government to be able to operate their business. Many of the government in these developing countries are already corrupt and there are few other ways to get anything passed to benefit a company with out bribing the local government.
            This case has a lot of depth and the surface has only been scratched since it is so recent there is an ongoing investigation that will hopefully uncover more evidence that can provide a clear concise end to this case. Only time will tell if there was bribery involved between Uber and the Malaysian government.
Stakeholders                                                                              The CEO of Uber
Uber's current CEO Dara Khosrowshahi
There are many key stakeholders in this case since it involves both a private company and different governments. Each individual government is a stake holder since they have each either taken or given money to the company. This shows that there is a section of the government that is corrupt. The users of Uber are at stake but in a much smaller way since these issues do not directly affect them, but they would still be paying into a corrupt company which no one really would like to do. The CEO of Uber is also a large stake holder since all these decisions reflect on him. In total there is a case of bribing the police, faulting obtaining of medical records, getting fraudulent money invested in the company, and having laws made to favor the company based on the money they paid to the government.
Individualism
The individualist theory is that a business must operate in the best interest of its stakeholders and turn the most profit possible while staying within the law. Milton Friedman’s view of individualism is just that a business must operate to maximize profits and stay within the law. Any other action that would not result in profits would be deemed unethical since it would be stealing from the owners and stakeholders in the company. Tibor Machan argued that this idea can hold a business back since sometimes there are decisions a company makes that in the short-term stumps profits, however eventually will yield much greater profits. Machan did agree with Friedman on the fact that the company still needed to stay within the law (Salazar 17-28). In this case it seems that Uber did not stay within the law and therefore based on the individualist theory this was an unethical choice. Uber in the first case of the office space in Indonesia clearly paid the local officials to allow them to use an incorrectly zoned area as an office space. In doing so Uber broke bribery laws which violates the idea that individualism is based on. The second case has a less evidence currently since the public does not know if the donation made by Uber and the investment made by Kumpulan Wang Persaraan had anything to do with bribing the government. If that is the case, even though the decision to donate money was in the best interest of the company and its stake holders since it then allowed Uber to operate, it is still unethical base on individualism since it still violates the law. Uber as a company has violated the individualistic theory on the sole premise that their bribes even though they were in the best interest of the company were illegal.
Utilitarianism
Utilitarianism is the promotion of happiness throughout the entire community. Every person needs to benefit from the company’s decision not just the company. Utilitarianism base for ethical rule is that the, “Business actions should aim to maximize the happiness in the long run for all conscious beings that are affected by the business action” (Salazar 19). In this case the company’s decision to invest in the Asian government created happiness for some since it made business easier. However, it did not create happiness for competing companies, such as taxis. This is because the law changes that occurred only benefited Uber and no one else. The first case caused a space that could have been being used correctly, but instead it was taken up by Uber. This could have made many people in the city of Jakarta unhappy. People would be unhappy with this if they were looking to use the space for its proper zoned usage, but instead they would find a company operating a business there. This inconveniences others and violates the idea behind Utilitarianism.
The second issue Uber is investigating is the donation and then investment of Kumpulan Wang Persaraan in Uber. Although it may not have been bribery since it is not proven to have been yet, it still violates Utilitarianism. The reason being that Uber needed to be able to operate in Malaysia but could not wait for the laws to be approved at the normal rate, thus they had to donate money to the government in order to speed up the process. This does not promote happiness, Uber paying the already corrupt government and feeding into the system only strengthens the corruption. When companies should be fighting the corruption and making every move possible to try to eliminate it. This is a tough decision companies need to make since the two sides of the decision have drastically different results. On one hand the company could pay the bribe and continue to operate, risking being caught. Or they could make the ethically right choice and fight the corruption, while not being able to operate. A corrupt government will always lead to its citizens being unhappy therefore both of the incidents are unethical according to utilitarianism.
Kantianism
Kantianism is the theory that a business must make rational decision and not treat the consumers as an ends but instead as a means. Kantianism is the ideolog that a business must, “Always act in ways that respect and honor individuals and their choices. Don’t lie, cheat, manipulate or harm others to get your way. Rather, use informed and rational consent from all parties” (Salazar 20). In this case the business was making rational decisions for themselves and for their stakeholders since they were trying to increase profits. But they were not making rational decisions for the consumer or anyone else. This case violates Kantianism since Ubers investment was only to gain for themselves rather than making their company a more holistic company. One of the main ideas behind Kantianism, as previously mentioned, is that a company must not manipulate anyone to get their way. Both incidents this case is investigating either have clear evidence supporting that Uber manipulated others to get their way or has suspicion of manipulation. The first case where an Uber employee payed local officials to ignore the fact that they were operating in an incorrectly zoned area is a clear case of manipulation. On the employee’s expense report the payments were even described as “payments to local officials”. There is no hiding the fact that this was bribery and manipulation. The second incident that is being investigated does not have a set decision based on Kantianism since it has not been proven that Uber’s donation and the investment mad by Kumpulan Wang Persaraan had anything to do with the laws that were passed. If they do find that these transactions did lead to the laws being passed, then it does violate Kantianism. Like wise if they find that the transactions had nothing to do with the passing of the law Uber did not violate the ideology behind Kantianism.
Virtue Theory                                                                                         Uber's Future

Uber will face many obstacles going forward with
business
In this theory a company must act based on the four different characteristics defined as justice temperance honesty and courage. The virtue theory focuses on the individual as a whole rather than basing it off of a certain ideology. It considers if the decision made the person or company’s character better. If the decision benefits the company’s character, then it is ethical for the company to do. These actions made by Uber do not reflect those characteristics, nor to they add to the character of the company. These actions make Uber look like a company that pays the government to get an edge on the competition. They sow that Uber is a company that is feeding into the corruption in Asia rather than fighting. The decisions that Uber has made as well as its employees reflect poorly on their character which is the main focus of the virtue theory. Thus, the decisions are unethical pertaining to the virtue theory.

References
“Finding the Way.” The Uber Story | Uber, www.uber.com/our-story/.
Ingram, David. “What Is at Stake for Uber in U.S. Bribery Probe?” Reuters, Thomson Reuters, 21 Sept. 2017, www.reuters.com/article/us-uber-corruption/what-is-at-stake-for-uber-in-u-s-bribery-probe-idUSKCN1BW0HH.
Jun, Soo Wern. “Grab, Uber Now Regulated after Public Transport Bills Passed in Dewan Negara.” NST Online, 15 Aug. 2017, www.nst.com.my/news/government-public-policy/2017/08/268231/grab-uber-now-regulated-after-public-transport-bills.
Khera, Ashvin. “Malaysia Ridesharing Regulations Passed In Parliament.” Uber Blog, 28 July 2017, www.uber.com/en-MY/blog/malaysia-ridesharing-regulations-passed-in-parliament/.
McAlone, Avery Hartmans and Nathan. “The Story of How Travis Kalanick Built Uber into the Most Feared and Valuable Startup in the World.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 1 Aug. 2016, www.businessinsider.com/ubers-history.
Newcomer, Eric. “Uber Faces Widespread Asia Bribery Allegations Amid U.S. Criminal Probe.” Bloomberg.com, Bloomberg, 20 Sept. 2017, www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-09-20/uber-is-said-to-review-asia-dealings-amid-u-s-criminal-probe.
Price, Rob. “Uber Is Cooperating with DOJ Investigation of Alleged Bribes Paid in Several Asian Countries.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 20 Sept. 2017, www.businessinsider.com/uber-asia-doj-bribery-investigation-2017-9.

“Uber Is Reportedly Reviewing Its Asia Business amid US Bribery Probe.” CNBC, CNBC, 20 Sept. 2017, www.cnbc.com/2017/09/20/uber-reviews-asia-business-amid-us-bribery-probe-source.html.