Summary By Maureen Nelis
The Utilitarian ethical theory according to John Stuart Mill states that we should bring happiness to ourselves as well as to others. The reason behind this theory is that if happiness in valuable, there is no difference morally-speaking between your happiness and someone else’s happiness. Nike’s decision to lay off workers without pay clearly puts them in violation of this ethical theory and would be considered an unethical choice. The workers and their families suffered because of this unethical decision and the benefit the company saw is not enough of a reason to classify this as an ethical, utilitarian choice.
According to Kant, Nike would have also violated the basic principles of Kantianism. By initially denying the Honduran workers their due severance the corporation acted inconsistently and irrationally and more importantly, their actions went against the “rules”, in this case the law. Nike failed to respect the Honduran workers and their autonomy, individual needs, and differences. Nike was not in any way motivated by good will and they knew their actions were wrong whereas Kantian ethics are motivated to do what is right because it is right. Finally Nike went against all four of the main virtues of character according to the virtue ethical theory. The decision Nike made was not honest or just, and did not take courage or self-control of business in order to make this decision. The Honduran workers were under the impression that even if they were fired they would rightfully receive severance pay to support their families. In this way the decision Nike made to deny the workers this severance was dishonest and unjust. Nike clearly did not consider how this type of poor ethical decision would further tarnish their image in the business world. The corporation made this decision on the assumption that the Honduran workers would not fight back, therefor Nike showed lack of courage and integrity of business. Due to the efforts of these social rights groups and the persistence of the Honduran people, Nike did eventually agree to pay their severance, but the overall effect that this business decision has left on the 1,800 workers was substantial and undeniably unethical.
References“Ignoring Nike Workers a Pleas for Support in Hunuras.” Ignoring Nike workers a Pleas for support in Hondouras. Web 24 Apr. 2012.
April 24th 2012
April 24th 2012
These facts and analyses are based on an original research paper by Taylor Searles, "Nike, Just Pay It" (2012).
“Just Pay it / Facebook.” Web 24 Apr. 2012. <http://www.facebook.com/justpayit>.
“Severance Pay.” About.com Human Resources. Web 24 Apr. 2012.
“Nike’s Love Affair with Sweatshops: Still Doing It: Labor Notes.” Labor Notes. Web 24 Apr. 2012
“Working In These Times.” Honduran Workers Speak Out Agaisnt Nike’s Labor Violations. Web 24 Apr. 2012.