Are businesses facing a new ethical dilemma?

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Employees at Juul Labs Inc. were accustomed to puffing away on the sleek e-cigarettes that made the startup an overnight success. So their boss had to acknowledge some awkwardness recently when he delivered the message: No vaping in the office. Juul’s chief told employees across the U.S. that, starting immediately, they could no longer use its products inside at work and that future vaping at San Francisco headquarters must happen outside under a tent to be erected specifically for the purpose. E-cigarette use has been illegal in California workplaces since June 2016, about a year after the Juul came onto the market. “It may feel nonsensical to prohibit at-work use of the very products we work hard to create and promote,” Chief Executive Kevin Burns emailed staff. “But the bottom line is we need to comply with legal requirements the same as any company.” Mr. Burns wrote in his email to employees that Juul had received an inquiry from the city about vaping practices in its offices. He declined to be interviewed. Many office workers around the country would love their own bosses to banish office vapers to outdoor tents. As sales of e-cigarettes surge, the devices have joined polarizing workplace aggravations like microwaved fish, loud ringtones and reply-to-all messages. Mariah Looney, 26, of Stockton, Calif., worked until earlier this year at a marketing firm where she says most of the men vaped all day. “I legitimately never thought that I would have to deal with someone vaping in an office, and I thought that was a common-sense thing that you don’t do that inside.” Vapor “would creep into all the cubicles” in the room she shared with other employees, she says. “Mostly, it was kind of annoying because I was trying to work.” E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices used to inhale an aerosol from a liquid-filled tank or cartridge-sometimes called a pod-that typically contains nicotine, flavorings and other chemicals. Studies conclude they are less harmful than traditional cigarettes, but scientists say the health risks of vaping or secondhand exposure aren’t yet known.

The attached articles discuss the growth of vaping in the workplace and the implications of banning workplace vaping.  For this discussion you are to:

  • 1. Examine the current ethical dilemma, considering both the employer and employee points of view. Use the definitions of an ethical dilemma learned in Week 1.
  • 2. Apply one Traditional ethical decision-making theory, from the week’s reading summarized on the attached chart, to resolve it.  The theory must be accurately explained using concepts from the week’s reading material.
  • 3. Apply one Contemporary theory from the attached chart to resolve.The theory must be accurately explained using concepts from the week’s reading material.
  • 4. Discuss the potential outcomes to be expected from each applied theory.

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