Legal and ethical behaviour relating to a work environment

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Ethical behavior is conducting ones life in complete accord with a firmly held set of values and principles. The principles of ethical behavior may be derived from philosophical understanding, religious beliefs, upbringing, etc. This involves making the right or moral decision at all times. Integrity is the consistent application of ethical behavior. It is important to apply ethical behavior in all areas of one's life whether personal or professional. This type of behavior tells others what kind of person we really are. In business, it works the same way. It tells consumers if the business is honest or if it is just concerned about making a profit.

Ethical behavior within a business is critical to its success. Unethical behavior can be very costly; not only through legal fees and debt, but also the loss of reputation, employees and customers. A business that practices ethical behavior instills confidence in their investors as well their customers and employees. The NFL team, The Patriots, are a really good football team. When they were caught video taping other teams' practices, their reputation went in the gutter. They are still trying to redeem themselves. Because of their dishonest and unethical behavior, they have lost many fans, which will show in their loss of profits. Honest people don't want to work for a shady company who is more likely to go against their principles or beliefs. In turn, employees who are treated with dignity and respect, who take pride in their organization and its ethics, tend to respect the assets of that organization (White, 2010). One of the most evident indicators of the employees' opinion of their organization is their conduct at work. Employees who have respect for their organization and co-workers will avoid such practices as: personal long distance phone calls on company accounts; taking office supplies home; excessive breaks or sick days; improper use of copy machines and computer equipment; stealing supplies; stealing company time; loss of professionalism; talking trash about the company, being a pleasant person to be around, etc. If an organization's corporate culture is characterized by ethical behaviors, then the decisions that are made by the company's leaders and workers are likely to be ones that are socially responsible rather than motivated solely by profit. Socially responsible business decisions are ones that are made from a stakeholder perspective, focusing on the needs of everyone who has the potential to be impacted by the company's actions. By focusing on the impact an action will have on all stakeholders rather than solely on the bottom line, companies can avoid making decisions that are unethical or illegal. Individuals who work for businesses make decisions every day, and their actions can impact the lives of many other people. When businesses make decisions that are not ethical, many people can be hurt - including employees, customers, and members of the general population as well as the business itself. Companies that are operated by people who do not choose to do what is right are often entities that do not survive for the long term. Making business decisions that are counter to what is right may result in short term profit, but it will lead to the demise of the organization at some point.

When a company is caught making unethical decisions, a person may wonder what other unethical decisions they have made in the past and will they continue to make more in the future. Businesses don't just make one unethical decision and suddenly become honest. It becomes the character of the company. That's what makes them shady. Investors and consumers will always be concerned about the company making more unethical decisions, especially ones that could get them into legal trouble such as in the Enron case. Every organization has an obligation to all of its stakeholders, not just its shareholders.

While many businesses have codes of ethics, the words written in a formal code are valuable only if their intent is reflected in the actions of the people who represent the organization (Cali, 2000). A business cannot be any more or less ethical than the people who run it (CEO's, managers, etc.) and the people who work for it (employees). Within a company, people take their cues regarding the behaviors that are acceptable based on how they see the company's leaders acting and the behaviors that they see being rewarded in their peers. Businesses that are managed by leaders who conduct themselves in an ethical manner and who reward employees for doing what is right are much more likely to be characterized positively

In the best of conditions, tractor trailers are dangerous vehicles simply due to their size and weight. The average semi can carry more than 40,000 pounds of cargo, let alone the mass of the truck, fuel and trailer. The average passenger vehicle, on the other hand, weighs much less than that, which is a deadly match in a collision. When truck drivers get too little sleep or spend too much time behind the wheel, the results can be disastrous. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, 30 to 40 percent of trucking accidents are the result of driver fatigue. And the people most likely to be injured in these accidents are not the over-tired truck drivers, but the drivers and passengers in the other vehicles. In 2008, 69% of the people who died as a result of a trucking accident were driving or riding in a passenger car or truck (Vasquez, 2008). Commercial truck drivers are just like other drivers. Once they get tired, they are more likely to make mistakes. The difference, however, is that their mistakes will likely be much more deadly. Tired truck drivers are less aware of the position of their vehicle and other vehicles on the road. They are more likely to follow too close or change lanes without checking for other vehicles. Fatigued truckers are also more prone to distractions from talking on cell phones, texting, communicating with dispatchers, and using on-board computer and GPS systems.

When it comes to truck drivers not operating while tired, the responsibility lies with both the driver and dispatch.  The driver must have the full authority to be able to call the shots when it is time for him or her to shut down due to fatigue.  The company must adhere to the professional drivers' request, without any repercussion from retaliation measures, such as dispatch forcing them to sit for three days, giving them low mileage and poor paying loads or terminating their employment.  This isn't always the case. When a driver is involved in an accident, they end up being the one who has to take responsibility and suffer the consequences, whether it be a fine, loss of license, or even jail.  The company needs to be held more accountable and should be asked why the driver was operating under such conditions. Professional truck drivers will often find themselves in a position where they must determine whether or not to run the load or risk losing their job and their means of support for their families.  If they run the forced load and get into an accident, the company simply tells them they shouldn't have taken the load even though it was forced on them by the company. The company is simply concerned about the bottom line. The load has to get there or they don't get paid and risk their reputation. They don't give any consideration to their unethical and unlawful behavior. They would much rather risk endangering the life of the truck driver and the general public, all for the sake of getting the load picked up and delivered on time. Commercial trucking companies also put a lot of pressure on their drivers to get their deliveries done quickly. Company profits depend on drivers delivering loads on-time, and early deliveries free up a driver and equipment for the next run. As a result, trucking companies may push their drivers to stay behind the wheel right up to the federal hours-of-service limits. Others may go farther than this and turn a blind eye when their drivers violate federal regulations, or even encourage them to do so.

This is where the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) comes in. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is in charge of regulating the commercial trucking industry, including how many hours truck drivers are permitted to operate their vehicles within any given day and week. Once notified of the company's unethical behavior, they do an investigation. If they find the allegations are true, they assign consequences, such as a fine, shutting the company down, etc. The problem lies with the fact that, due to the consequences, the employees are apprehensive about reporting these incidents until its too late. If they do report it, it's the employee's word against the company's. This is a problem because the company gets away with being unethical and this allows them to continue this behavior.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration should be more strict about enforcing the regulations. They need to regularly monitor these companies and interview the drivers as well as the employees of these companies. They need to put the fear into these companies, so they are afraid to cross these lines. Not only does the FMCSA need to step it up, but UPS needs to have a well defined mission statement and ethics policy for the company. This would help to ensure that both the drivers and UPS employees know where the company stands on certain issues. It will also help everyone to follow the guidelines UPS has set as decisions are made that will affect the business and society.

In conclusion, it is apparent that ethics in business is crucial to its survival. Whether it is the company, the business people, or the employees, ethics is the core of the business. It determines its ultimate success or failure. Policies on ethical/legal behavior should be made and enforced in all companies in order to ensure social responsibility. Honesty is still the best policy, even when it comes to the bottom line.