Paul Cronan

.. ness must become a charity. It simply means that business should be equitable. People with disabilities should be allowed to work and earn what their productivity will justify. If business would take the minimal step of hiring the disabled and paying them their worth, the overwhelming majority of the disabled would not only prove their worth economically but find their self-respect greatly enhanced.

What is not equitable is to deny them access to the marketplace and force them to remain unproductive. As a member of the community and society and a representative of the company the supervisor has a duty to help prevent the spread of HIV and help to position NET as a concerned and responsible business. The supervisor has a duty to employees to avoid fear and workplace disruption. The positive actions of the supervisor can also help the company which has a duty to shareholders to control healthcare costs and to avoid litigation. These can be accomplished with a specific policy concerning HIV and AIDS. The supervisor’s approach is to use existing policies to deal with the employment issues that revolve around employees with HIV or AIDS. There is recognition that education about this disease is needed to help explain a company’s approach or policy and what human rights legislation it falls under; prevent the spread of AIDS; dispel myths about HIV and AIDS; decrease harassment and discrimination in the workplace against people with the disease; and promote work safety by teaching precautionary practices and protocols.

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A good policy will help supervision meet the needs of management, HIV-infected employees and co-workers. This policy would include: Show compliance with the law. State that your company adheres to the Americans with Disabilities Act and its protections for people with HIV, including acceptable performance standards, non-discrimination and reasonable accommodation. Educate. Policies often contain a component stating that HIV/AIDS is not transmitted through casual contact, and that employees with HIV/AIDS are not a health risk to their co-workers.

Invite employees to receive more information on HIV through human resources, or state there will be regular employee education. Protect all employees. Assure employees that their individual health status is confidential, private and not to be disclosed. Also state that the safety of all employees is of utmost importance. Give clear direction. State where employees should go with questions about HIV transmission, and from whom supervisors should get direction on dealing with HIV issues in their department. Disseminate this information.

Be certain all employees at all levels read and understand your AIDS policy. Ethically, the supervisors should work with the company to make reasonable accommodations to Cronan; and at the same time provide for worker education. Education regarding HIV and AIDS can help prevent the spread of the virus and can reduce the fear and misunderstanding that can cause disruption in the workplace. Reasonable accommodation is any modification or adjustment to a job, an employment practice, or the work environment that makes it possible for a qualified individual with a disability to participate in and enjoy an equal employment opportunity. The employer’s obligation to provide a reasonable accommodation applies to all aspects of employment; the duty is ongoing and may arise any time a person’s disability or job changes. An employer is not required to provide an accommodation that will impose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer’s business.

An employment opportunity cannot be denied to a qualified applicant or employee solely because of the need to provide reasonable accommodation. If the cost of the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the employer, the employer should determine if financial or technical assistance is available elsewhere, or the individual with a disability should be given the option of paying that portion of the cost which would otherwise constitute an undue hardship for the employer. An option would be to offer Cronan training for a different job that would be less of a threat to him and his fellow employees. Employees also have a right to work in an environment free from discrimination and harassment. Under Natural Law the supervisor is morally bound to discourage inappropriate responses relating to AIDS infection or suspected infection, such as stereotyping those affected, moralizing about how the sufferer acquired the virus, and unfounded fears, hysteria or a tendency to shun or harass those who have or are suspected of having AIDS. Natural Law also requires the supervisor to convey the message that harassment of employees with AIDS will not be tolerated and will be dealt with as a disciplinary matter. Regardless of which strategy a supervisor uses, attention must be paid to communicating it to all employees.

Include a position statement in employee benefits handbooks or online benefits bulletins. Discuss it at employee orientation sessions, and include any up-to-the-minute articles in employee newsletters and bulletins on an ongoing basis. Since the employees were informed of the latest medical facts about aids transmission, the walkout was probably illegal. The workers should be informed to go back to work to avoid disciplinary action, however, to show concern for their fears, the supervisor could transfer Cronan to a job involving minimal employee contact. The interests of the company are not being taken into account by the workers that walked off their jobs. If Paul’s illness does not present a health hazard to any of the workers they are not within their rights to walk off their jobs.

In this case Natural Law dictates that supervision must convey that the company would be within their rights to discharge the 29 workers that walked off their jobs. The supervisor still has a responsibility to protect not just Cronan but all the workers. Paul Cronan from any abuse and his co-workers from the possibility of contracting any contagious illness that he may have. Supervisors are faced with another dilemma. If they fail to protect the confidentiality of medical information, an action for defamation- could result. On the other hand, employees may claim that they have a right to know so they can decide whether to keep their jobs.

Where contact is more than casual, consultation and accommodation should be considered for those who work with the AIDS victims. However, a general announcement to all employees may be detrimental to morale and productivity. Under Natural Law, the supervisor has a right to expect fair treatment and understanding from all three agents toward himself. He is responsible for promoting their rights but he has rights, too, and that can be overlooked or ignored. Implementing reasonable accommodations for Paul Cronan would impose financial burden on NET.

That could impede the company’s participation in the free market system because less funds would be available to purchase goods or new equipment for the technicians. However, implementing these changes is the responsible thing to do. Not implementing them could cost the company more in the long run. Providing AIDS training for all employees would be expensive and leave less funds available for other service related expenses. There again, not offering the training could be more costly for the company if a lawsuit amount was awarded to a harassed employee. Individual rights is the best reason to limit the free market system with the application of anti-discrimination practices. As is stated in the text, every person has a moral right to be treated as a free equal person by other people and to treat others as equal to themselves.

Discrimination is based on the belief that one group is inferior to others groups and thus are less worthy and less competent. It also means that the discriminated group is at an economic disadvantage to other groups. Neither the supervisor nor the company can afford to look the other way and allow discrimination and harassment tactics to exist in the workplace. The financial consequences could be very detrimental to the company’s bottom line. Also, its standing in the community could be tarnished.

Business Reports.