Wednesday, April 25, 2018

OxFam Britians Sexual Misconduct Scandal (2018)


OxFam Britians Sexual Misconduct Scandal (2018)

Company Background

Oxfam, mostly known as OxFam international is a worldwide charity organization. As told on the website, it is “an international confederation of about 20 organizations that are working together with partners and local communities in more than 90 countries”. OxFam's vision is to exclude the world of poverty. This organization is striving for a world where people are treated equally, so that the unfortunate too can live in a world where they can enjoy their rights as full citizens and not face discrimination and misfortune. In short, Oxfam International branches out to each section of the world to bring peace and a utopian-esque vision to the world. By achieving their purpose, OxFam International goes out to create lasting solutions that will solve the injustice of poverty. Poverty is the main problem that Oxfam is looking so solve, and by doing that they use a combination of rights-based sustainable development programs. Some of these programs would be public education, campaigns, advocacy, and humanitarian assistance in disaster and conflicts. You yourself can also get involved and contribute to a cause that Oxfam is conducting. They allow both donations and volunteers. The specific OxFam organization that will be focused on is “OxFam Britain”.

Company Controversy

Recently, one of the largest Britain charities has acknowledged that some of the staff members of this organization had committed “sexual misconduct” in Haiti in the year 2011. The source comes from a news report that claims that senior officials that also was on the trip had hired prostitutes, some even for sex parties. Through the investigation that was conducted further revealed that drivers were usually forced to pick up prostitutes. Orgies were also held at houses near Port-au-Prince that was used by the staff. Once this situation was brought to the light through an investigation, OxFam Britain has fired four people and gave three other people the decision to resign after the investigation. There has been a huge slippery slope that has occurred since the scandal. As reported by the Nation.com, the 76-year-old charity had to withdraw a bid for UK-government funding and contracts with the European Commission are on hold. On top of that thousands of donors have pulled out, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu has renounced his ambassadorship. Not to mention that following the scandal a senior Oxfam employee was retained for a year after being accused of sexually assaulting his coworkers. Aside from firing they posted on their website “Immediate response actions: sexual misconduct”, where they have spoken more in depth about the situation and listed a range of actions that are currently being executed.

Stakeholders
Donors, Trade Unions, and Partners are also included, that have worked with Oxfam Britain could possibly detach themselves from the organization. The volunteers as well as clients that have previously or are currently working with OxFam Britain are to be considered as well. The workers who were involved with the case are going to be held accountable as a stakeholder too.

Individualism
Individualism is the belief that the only goal of a business is to profit, making the only obligation of a businessman is to maximize profit for the organization. This belief does not consider the identity of the company and leaders, or the motivation of investors to invest in socially responsible business. From an individualist’s point of view, Oxfam Britain has failed regarding the maximizing of profit. This sexual misconduct scandal has caused thousands of donors to pull back from donating to the charity. Not to mention that this charity has had to withdraw a bid for UK-government funding and contracts with the European Commission are currently on hold.

Utilitarianism
Utilitarianism is the belief to understand that happiness and pleasure are the main goals, and that businesses should aim to maximize the happiness in the long run. Utilitarianism does not resonate with this controversy. The reason being is that there are several people, from donors, to the contracts with the European Commission are not happy with this situation. The drivers who were forced to pick up sexual workers also are not happy, getting involved with something as mischievous as this against their will is not good. There are also the workers of OxFam Britain who are now fired and are most likely going to be facing a horrendous amount of charges. It is safe to say that those supporters are not happy or feel a sort of pleasure knowing that a trusted organization has such horrendous workers among them, whether their crimes were brought to the light or not. To a Utilitarian, no one came out of this situation with their happiness maximized. If anything, everyone came out the exact opposite.

Kantianism
A Kantian takes of the stance of acting through rational decision-making, autonomy of individuals, honesty, and freedom. The formula for humanity should also be considered in Kantian ethics as well. As stated by Kant, one should “Act 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”. Not necessarily seeking to benefit the company or its supporters, but because it is the right thing to do, and to always act in a way that respects people and their decision making. A Kantian would frown upon the sexual misconduct scandal. These workers were involved in a situation that not only makes the organization look bad, but also caused the victims of this misconduct to be treated as less than human. But they would also find that posting the immediate response action and allowing the public to know the truth and how they have been handling it as ethically correct.

Virtue Theory
The virtue theory focused on promoting wellness or flourishing of individuals within a society. This means that according to the case manual, good character traits that showcase that this is an organization that is worth working for. The four virtues, which is Courage, Honesty, Self-Control, and Fairness must be considered as well. Regarding this case, the Virtue Theory approach is like a Kantian approach. While through a Virtue Theorist perspective, this sexual misconduct case is unfortunate and has OxFam Britain looking unprofessional in terms of morality, their response that is being used to “clean up” their workers wrong doing is the right thing to do.


Bibliography
Epstein, Helen C. "Why British Conservatives Are Salivating Over the Oxfam Scandal." The Nation. N.p., 23 Mar. 2018. Web. 22 Apr. 2018. <https://www.thenation.com/article/why-british-conservatives-are-salivating-over-the-oxfam-scandal/>.

"Immediate Response Actions: Sexual Misconduct." Immediate Response Actions: Sexual Misconduct | Oxfam International. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2018. <https://www.oxfam.org/en/immediate-response-actions-sexual-misconduct>.

Jazeera, Al. “Oxfam: Witness 'threatened' in sexual misconduct probe.” UK News | Al Jazeera,

Jazeera, Al. “Oxfam: 26 new sexual misconduct claims in last 11 days.” News | Al Jazeera, Al
claims-11-days-180220161832829.html.

"Our Purpose and Beliefs." Our Purpose and Beliefs | Oxfam International. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2018. <https://www.oxfam.org/en/our-purpose-and-beliefs>.

PÉrez-peÑa, Richard. “Oxfam, British Charity, Admits Sexual Misconduct by Workers in Haiti.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 9 Feb. 2018, www.nytimes.com/2018/02/09/world/americas/oxfam-haiti-sexual-misconduct.html.
Salazar, Heahter. "The Case Manual." (n.d.): 1-23. Web.

"Tesco and Oxfam Stakeholders." Free Essays - PhDessay.com. N.p., 15 July 2016. Web. 22 Apr. 2018. <https://phdessay.com/tesco-and-oxfam-stakeholders/>.
Salazar, Heahter. "The Case Manual." (n.d.): 1-23. Web.

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)