Table of Contents
Introduction The Characteristics of Physical Privacy in the Workplace from a Utilitarian Standpoint Deontological Considerations Conclusion References
Physical privacy is the capacity of an individual or group to seclude themselves or restrict access to certain information about themselves (Moore, 2011). Employees have a constitutional right to bodily privacy in the workplace. Therefore, employers cannot violate the right to privacy of their employees. Employers have always been accused of invading the private of their employees, despite civil rights and labor organizations' efforts to safeguard privacy in the workplace. Genetic testing is one of the rising workplace practices that is widely regarded as a breach of privacy for employees. This is because genetic test results are frequently misapplied at the expense of employee welfare (Moore, 2011). This paper examines the utilitarian and ethical factors of workplace genetic testing.
The Characteristics of Physical Privacy at Work
The majority of modern employment contracts stipulate that companies must respect the right to privacy of their employees. This means that employers have restricted access to information on their employees. In addition, they can only supervise the activity of their employees to a limited degree and employ legal procedures. Every employer has an interest in closely monitoring their employees. This is because of the following factors: First, it enables them to prevent workplace theft by employees (Moore, 2011). Second, close monitoring enables employers to ensure that workers are doing the right thing and, as a result, achieving their objectives. It allows businesses to prevent the misuse of resources such as telephones, computers, and the internet.
Employers utilize different tactics to closely monitor their employees, including CCTV surveillance, eavesdropping, and computer monitoring (Moore, 2011). Recently, genetic testing has been used to aid in the monitoring of employee health. In this instance, prospective and current employees undergo genetic testing to identify their susceptibility to occupational disorders. It may be utilized as genetic screening or genetic monitoring. Genetic monitoring entails "detection of genetic abnormalities possibly caused by workplace toxins" (Sharpe & Carter, 2006). The purpose of genetic screening, on the other hand, is to discover the likelihood of an inherited disease or susceptibility to occupational contaminants. As with all other monitoring techniques, the misuse of genetic test results constitutes a violation of the privacy rights of workers. Such information may be used, for instance, to discriminate against or stigmatize employees in the workplace. A worker with a certain genetic disorder may be refused promotions or access to benefits enjoyed by coworkers.
There are utilitarian considerations
Multiple interest groups, including employers, have always promoted genetic screening on the grounds that it can dramatically reduce incidences of occupational disorders (Sharpe & Carter, 2006). Employers will be able to identify employees who are prone to workplace contaminants through DNA testing. Consequently, they will be able to avoid assigning such people to potentially hazardous work environments. Thus, it will be feasible to spare the families of employees "the physical, emotional, and financial costs as well as premature death associated with occupational diseases" (Moore, 2011). Employers will boost their profits by minimizing the costs associated with low productivity, high absenteeism, high labor turnover, and liabilities related with occupational sickness. Consequently, genetic testing will benefit both employers and employees.
Genetic monitoring serves as an early warning system that assists management in identifying the adverse impacts of workplace contaminants on workers. Thus, the test would enable management to take prompt corrective action to improve the welfare of employees and the reputation of the organization (Sharpe & Carter, 2006). Therefore, routine genetic testing will benefit both the employee and the employer.
Employers have also investigated genetic testing on the grounds that it enables employees to make educated decisions regarding their well-being (Miller, 2007). Genetic testing offers workers with readily accessible information regarding job risks and the dangers posed by these hazards to their lives.
Lastly, genetic testing is regarded on the basis that those who oppose it are free to forgo the test and seek employment with organizations that do not mandate it. However, requiring employees to take the exam constitutes an invasion of privacy. This results in the rejection of workplace genetic testing (Person & Hansson, 2003).
Regarding ethical issues, genetic testing should only be permissible under the following circumstances: The genetic test should be highly specific and sensitive to begin with. This indicates that the test findings should be associated with a small number of false positives and false negatives. In other words, for the test to be of any use to all parties, it must be dependable (Sharpe & Carter, 2006).
Second, it is recommended that the examination be administered by an impartial body (Person & Hansson, 2003). The test results should be delivered immediately to the employee. As the employee's results become available, a genetic counselor can provide pertinent guidance. The results should be kept strictly confidential and only shared with the employer with the employee's approval. Keeping the results as private as possible prevents the misuse of genetic information and reduces the likelihood of privacy infringement.
Given the sensitivity of the genetic test results and their potential impact on the employee, it is prudent to provide professional counseling prior to and after the test. To increase the acceptability of the outcomes, the counseling should be offered by a trained professional (Moore, 2011). Additionally, the counseling will assist the employee to deal with their condition following the test. Regardless of test results, the employer should always cover the expense of counseling to improve test participation.
Fourth, the employer should ensure continuous access to benefits, such as insurance coverage, that were accessible to the employee prior to the test. Terminating such benefits based on test results constitutes discrimination and generates workplace opposition to the test (Miller, 2007). As a result, guaranteeing continuing access to present advantages is a method for reducing the anxiety associated with genetic testing. The employer must treat all employees equally, regardless of their health condition.
If an employee decides to share the results of a drug test, especially if the test is positive, policies should be implemented to increase job security. Genetic testing can be advantageous if employees trust their employers will use test results in their best interests (Miller, 2007). Therefore, genetic test findings should not be utilized to undermine the job security of individuals.
Regarding work ethics, each employer must provide workplace safety. Thus, if a company fails to conduct a test on employees who become unwell after being exposed to toxins on the job, the business can be held liable for negligence (Moore, 2011). Since protecting the safety of employees on the job is a legal responsibility, businesses have the right to undertake genetic tests in an effort to promote employee safety.
The duties and obligations of the employer regarding genetic testing include, but are not limited to, the deontological reasons listed above. Employers must obey the aforementioned factors when conducting genetic tests to avoid invading the privacy of their employees.
It is evident from the preceding explanation that bodily privacy is a fundamental right of all employees in the workplace. However, the right to privacy of employees has always been breached when employers attempt to closely monitor employees (Moore, 2011). Various corporations have utilized genetic monitoring to check the health status of its staff. Proponents of DNA testing assert that it enables employers to identify the health consequences of workplace pollutants on their personnel. As a result, it aids in preventing occupational diseases and deaths linked with these diseases (Sharpe & Carter, 2006). However, in certain instances, the test results have been misapplied. This has resulted in discrimination and unequal treatment of workers. Thus, several interest groups currently oppose genetic testing as an unwarranted breach of workers' privacy. To maximize the test's benefits, it is crucial that it be conducted legally.
Miller, P. (2007). Genetic Testing and the Future of Disability Insurance: Discrimination in the Genetic Age 35(2) Journal of Law, Medicine, and Ethics, pages 46-47
Moore, A. (2011). Privacy Rights. Penn State University Press, Pennsylvania.
Person, A., & Hansson, S. (2003). Privacy and Workplace Ethical Standards. Business Ethics Journal, 42(1), 59-60.
Sharpe, N., and R. Carter (2006). Genetic Testing: Care, Consent and Liability. New York: John Wiley and Sons.