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Question:

The team should undertake extensive research from academic journals, books, industry sources and the media and write a report which addresses the following issues and questions:
 
What was the nature of the dilemma? Provide background information to the factors that lead to the dilemma if necessary and explain how the dilemma unfolded;
Does this dilemma breach regulations/law?
 
Who are the key affected stakeholders? Were the actions of the main actors unethical?
 
Analyse the case using three ethical theories examined this semester. From your analysis, discuss whether the organisations in question behaved unethically in this case.
 
How was the dilemma resolved? Do you think the dilemma was resolved effectively? Consider the implications of this dilemma on ethical standards in Australia.
 
 

Answer:

Introduction and Background

Amazon is a very well known firm across the world. It sells absolutely everything through its Ecommerce business. In the year 2012, some of the workers came forward to discuss their experiences if working with Amazon in the warehouse located in Breinigsville, Pennsylvania. Those were the former employees of the company. There was a man named Neal Heimbach who filed the case lawsuits against Amazon (Umbro, 2018). The major complaint was that Amazon failed to reimburse the workers who worked in Amazon on hourly basis for the time they spent waiting in the security check lines everyday at the end of their shifts and in the lunch breaks. This time was usually noted as 20 minutes per day. Every employee got a 15 minute break yet they claimed that the supervisors continuously monitored them with the help of the computer screens.

Stakeholders or Actors of the case study

The stakeholders or the actors in the case are employees and their family, users and the sellers of Amazon. The employees were the most affected stakeholders. They were the ones who were treated unethically directly (Ghosh, 2018). Due to this some of the employees also suffered from the medical conditions by working in the warehouses and because of such medical conditions, their families were also impacted.

Other stakeholders are the customers. However the customers would never come to know as to what exactly went in the warehouses. Yet the employees were the ones who packed the packages and the customers were being affected by the whole process because the contribution of the employees was half hearted and the process of delivering and packaging was taking longer than usual (Agerholm, 2017).

Other stakeholders are the sellers. People who sell the items on Amazon were also getting connected to the customers and the employees too.

 

Ethical Theories

There are three theories which apply to this unethical case of Amazon. They are:

According to this theory, the major aim of the firm is to increase the happiness in oneself as well as in others. Hence, the top most aim is to increase the happiness for all the stakeholders who are linked with the firm directly or indirectly. There was no happiness displayed by the employees in the warehouses. It can be said that making more money like 11 dollars per hour would make the employee happy and satisfied yet most of the employees claimed that the money earned was not worth as they had no time to think of spending it wisely. They were too busy in that warehouse. Hence, money which was given to the employees too was not making them happy in the long run. On the whole, Amazon easily could have saved itself from all the lawsuits only if they would have worked ethically. Working ethically and keeping the employees happy would have made the company look good and also would have been better for all the stakeholders (Eggleston, 2012).

Kantianism

According to this theory, the action is believed allowable or non allowable according to the category imperative and the formula of Humanity that states that using people for getting whatever a firm wants is incorrect and unethical because it means employees are being exploited.  This is the theory about Goodwill and Logic (Agbude et al., 2015). The firm did fail in the category imperative due to the hiring of the contract basis workers while the holidays were going on and then fired them just when the work was finished. In Addition to that, the firm also expected to pack the boxes more than the capacity of the employees. This was unreasonable.

Virtue Theory

This theory says that logic or rationality is what makes and displays various characteristics of the people. This theory has four virtues: Courage, Integrity, temperance and Justice. The firm did not have any of the virtues. The firm was not courageous as they made the employees work in bad conditions. Integrity was not present in their relation with employees as according to the firm the short breaks were wrong. No temperance was there as they want the employees to pack more boxes which the employee’s capacity did not allow (Zyl, 2005). No Justice was there because they were paid more money but then they were asked to spend almost whole day in the warehouse. Amazon also lied to the media about it saying that there is nothing wrong in their working conditions and the employees are getting paid a very high price still.

 

References

Agbude, G.A., Ogunwede, J.K. & Agbude, J.G., 2015. Kant’s Categorical Imperative and the “Business” of Profit Maximization: The Quest for Service Paradigm. Technology and Investment, 6, pp.1-11.

Agerholm, H., 2017. Amazon workers working 55-hour weeks and so exhausted by targets they 'fall asleep standing up'. [Online] Available at: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/amazon-workers-working-hours-weeks-conditions-targets-online-shopping-delivery-a8079111.html [Accessed 16 October 2018].

Eggleston, B., 2012. Utilitarianism. Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics, 4, pp.452-58.

Ghosh, S., 2018. Peeing in trash cans, constant surveillance, and asthma attacks on the job: Amazon workers tell us their warehouse horror stories. [Online] Available at: https://www.businessinsider.in/Peeing-in-trash-cans-constant-surveillance-and-asthma-attacks-on-the-job-Amazon-workers-tell-us-their-warehouse-horror-stories/articleshow/64015295.cms [Accessed 16 October 2018].

Umbro, D., 2018. What it's really like to work at Amazon, according to employees. [Online] Available at: https://www.businessinsider.in/What-its-really-like-to-work-at-Amazon-according-to-employees/articleshow/62762659.cms [Accessed 16 October 2018].

Zyl, L.V., 2005. Virtue Theory and Applied Ethics. South African Journal of Philosophy, 21(2).

OR

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