Paper on Unauthorized Immigrant Workers at Chipotle Mexican Grill Restaurants

Question 1: Is being an unauthorized immigrant a form of workplace diversity? How is it similar to and different from the other types of workplace diversity discussed in Chapter 16 of your textbook? 

Workplace diversity entails the creation of a professional environment that can foster understanding and acceptance of the employees’ unique characteristics. Some of these features include race, ethnicity, religion, gender, and age, among other related factors (Barak, 2016). Workplace diversity supports the employment of people from different biographic backgrounds. The acceptance of such variation in human characteristics can facilitate the creation of a cohesive workplace environment. Unauthorized immigrants are groups of people whose residence in a particular country violates the existing immigration laws. In particular, illegal immigrants do not have the legal right to citizenship.

Nevertheless, unauthorized immigrants are characterized by exceptional variations in vital human characteristics. The individuals originate from different socio-cultural and economic backgrounds, among other related changes (Hall, Greenman, & Yi, 2019). Therefore, workplaces should consider the acceptance of these groups of employees as a form of workplace diversity. Unauthorized employees integrate women and men, people from different ethnic and racial groups, the elderly, and the younger generation.Notably, unauthorized immigrants differ significantly from other forms of workplace diversity. The first significant difference is that unauthorized immigrants are illegal in the host country, while different types of diversity are within the confines of local laws. Organizations employing illicit immigrants are also susceptible to legal problems and sanctions from immigration agencies. Lastly, unlike other forms of workplace diversity, unauthorized immigration is an unethical practice because it encourages dishonesty. Accordingly, entities such as the Chipotle Mexican Grill Restaurant should assess the ethical and legal consequences of hiring unauthorized immigrants.

Question 2: Which stakeholders, other than employers, are helped and which are hurt when an organization hires unauthorized immigrants?

Different stakeholders, other than the employing organizations, benefit differently from illegal immigration. For instance, local citizens and legal immigrants are the most affected by the decision to hire illegal immigrants. The concerned groups are likely to lose their jobs to pave the way for the cheaper labor provided by immigrant workers (Hall, Greenman, & Yi, 2019). Domestic employees and legal immigrants may not receive pay rises and related benefits. Local government authorities may also suffer heavily from the influx of unauthorized immigrants because they will have to invest more in related infrastructural development. Correspondingly, unauthorized immigrants can encourage unfair competition among local firms. For instance, unlike firms employing legal and law-abiding citizens, firms employing unauthorized immigrants have lower operational expenses and higher profits. Other local businesses may benefit from the influx of unauthorized immigrants through increased sales. In general, societies should eliminate the unethical and illegal practice to preserve the reputation of local institutions.

Part B: Case Study: Merck, the FDA, and the Vioxx Recall

Section 1: Whether Merck acted in a socially responsible manner with regard to the development and testing of Vioxx

The concept of corporate social responsibility describes various self-regulation processes that can encourage organizations to demonstrate their philanthropic and charitable nature. In particular, social responsibilities encourage businesses to contribute to societal goals and other ethically oriented practices (Lawrence & Weber, 2014). Accordingly, entities must bear the burden of some of their specific actions that may affect the surrounding communities.

Based on this description of social responsibility, I believe that Merck depicted irresponsibility from how it coordinated the development and testing of Vioxx. Markedly, social irresponsibility is evident from the way it organizes public relations. For instance, it failed to provide adequate information on the perceived risks and benefits of the Vioxx product. The company had the ability and capability to introduce relevant measures and strategies that could help in minimizing harm to the consumers. The company failed to disclose and address the dangerous challenges associated with the product during the early stage of development and testing. For example, in 1997, one of the company’s scientists affirmed that the reported side effects of the drug on the heart and blood vessels. In the email message dated 1997, Dr. Alise Reicin provides a comprehensive description of the cardiovascular risks associated with Vioxx.

Despite these important discoveries, the company’s director of research failed to warn the customers about the dangerous side effects of the drug. According to the director, disclosing the lethal nature of the medication would shame the organization and affect its public image. Another case of social irresponsibility was also evident when Merck refused to adhere to the FDA’s advice to include labels on the products, further exposing its vulnerable consumers to various chronic conditions.

In essence, Merck was not transparent in practicing corporate governance because of its decision to conceal vital information during the development and testing of Vioxx. From the company’s actions, it might have been trying to hide some of its unethical actions, further affirming the management’s lack of sensitivity towards social responsibility. Pharmaceutical entities such as Merck should depict a higher sense of social responsibility. In this case, Merck’s primary motivation was on maintaining its public image and maximizing corporate profits. The firm was desperate to duck accountability issues to the point of failing to include warnings about the product’s lethal risks in the labels. In general, Merck should have complied with all the minimum requirements on the quality production of related products. In particular, the firm should have ensured that the development and testing of Vioxx met the set safety standards.

Section 2: Merck’s socially responsibility in its relations with customers and shareholders

The primary essence of social responsibility in any business entity is to ensure positive outcomes and consumer satisfaction. The standard rule of social responsibility, in this case, demanded adequate production and supply of safe and quality products at reasonable prices. Merck failed to adhere to most of these common standards while developing and testing the new product. Accordingly, the company was irresponsible in how it related and treated its customers and shareholders. Social responsibility, in this case, could have encouraged Merck to respect its consumers through proper information on product safety. However, the company ignored such critical relationships with its customers and consumers. Its decision to market and advertise Vioxx without solving the identified safety concerns was a clear illustration of the breach of trust in the relationship.

The company also depicted social irresponsibility from its pricing strategies, which was above the market averages. For example, at $3.00 per pill, the price of Vioxx was too high, considering that it was also a flawed product. The company had prior information on the side effects and still placed an unreasonably hefty price tag onto the drug. Merck’s poor relationship with the consumers was also evident from its decision to minimize the warming of the safety risk on the labels. The intense marketing and promotional campaigns further failed to warn the stakeholders about the dangerous impacts of Vioxx. The company’s shareholders did not have prior transparent and truthful information on the effectiveness of Vioxx before releasing it to the market. The research and development department could have issued critical information to the shareholders safeguarding the company’s long-term interests. The company possibly feared that the identified defects could have caused a significant drop in shareholder prices translating in possible loss of dividends and corporate profits.

Lastly, the company’s decision to recall the medicine was a clear sign that it affirmed the social irresponsibility. The recall also had negative impacts on the shareholders’ interest because of a possible reduction in dividends and profitability. The scandal also had adverse effects on Merck’s profitability and positive market reputation. Another potential impact of the company’s social irresponsibility towards its customers and shareholders was the severe threat of incurring higher litigation and legal costs. For example, the court awarded the first applicant a total of $9million for damages and another $4.5 million in compensation. Notably, before the recall, Merck was fetching huge corporate profits from the sale of Vioxx at prices above market averages.

Section 3: Merck’s socially responsibility with regard to the marketing and advertising of Vioxx

Advertisement processes should reveal truthful and accurate information concerning different commodities. For example, information concerning the perceived impacts on the health and safety of a particular product can encourage consumers to make independent and rational consumption decisions (Crane, Matten, & Spence, 2019). Merck directed many resources and time towards direct-to-consumer advertisements or promotional campaigns despite having the information on Vioxx’s effectiveness. Accordingly, Merck’s actions towards advertisement and promotions were irresponsible. The firm used platforms such as magazines, television, and newspapers to market Vioxx. However, it included only the perceived benefits of the medication, which was misleading. The adverts provided strong arguments and suggestions on the effectiveness of the medicine. However, many doctors expressed their reservations towards the application of the direct-to-consumer marketing strategy to promote the flawed drug. The creation of an inaccurate impression through the adverts that Vioxx was safe was an act of social irresponsibility.

Arguably, a direct-to-consumer marketing system can be fraudulent and capable of suppressing critical ethical concerns. The company used the marketing method to create and sustain positive market impressions concerning Vioxx. An organization can easily pass misleading information about its commodities through direct-to-consumer marketing platforms such as magazines, television, and newspapers because of the direct access to consumers. Merck used such platforms to conceal essential facts and concerns on the associated cardiovascular risks of using Vioxx. The intense advertisement of the Vioxx medicine failed to include possible adverse side effects. The communication of such deceitful information directly to the consumers was indeed unacceptable and condemnable. In the case, Vioxx also relied on the services of a DTC advertising company to promote the controversial drug.

Pharmaceutical companies such as Merck should limit their use of direct-to-consumer marketing platforms to promote their products. The platforms can encourage unethical practices such as bribing doctors to provide positive product reviews. In this case, Merck directed approximately $422 million towards financing the marketing of Vioxx. Some of the targeted customers include doctors and hospital facilities. Doctors are in good position to have undue influence over their patients to use certain medications. In essence, direct-to-consumer advertising raises critical ethical issues that can intrude on the doctor-to-patient relationships in the varied healthcare environment. Patients are the most significant causalities under a direct-to-consumer marketing system because of their inadequate access to adequate and critical information concerning their medication. In general, the marketing and advertisement of Vioxx exemplify the unethical nature and socially irresponsible practices in most of the pharmaceutical companies. The advertisement and promotional campaigns failed to communicate accurate data and information on the cardiovascular risks associated with the product. Lastly, pharmaceutical companies should exercise social responsibility in their relationship with key stakeholders and consumers.

Section 4: Merck’s socially responsibility in its relationships with government policy makers and regulators

Most pharmaceutical companies, such as Merck, are capable of influencing policymakers and regulators in their respective industries. They can dictate favorable policies from legislative bodies and government agencies to lobby for their economic interests. Socially irresponsibility dictates that pharmaceutical companies should respect the set legal requirements and policy-decisions by government agencies. In this case, Merck failed to comply with the government’s regulations and rules on quality production and supply of medications. The government’s primary role in such cases is to encourage ethical practices and social welfare in their production process. The government should also protect vulnerable consumers and companies from unfair market competition and exploitation. Therefore, the actions of the pharmaceutical companies to influence government policies and laws can have detrimental impacts on their consumers and shareholders. The case further affirms that Merck might have participated in shaping federal agencies such as the FDA in the development and testing of Vioxx. The FDA could have been responsible for delaying and downplaying the release of the reported side effects of the drug.

A socially responsible behavior could have discouraged Merck from influencing government agencies to release the flawed drug into the market. Merck did not abide by the laws and regulations laid down by the government. In particular, it failed to demonstrate the efficacy and safety of Vioxx in a satisfactory manner dictated by various government agencies. According to the FDA’s regulations on the production and testing of Vioxx, Merck failed to demonstrate the effectiveness and safety of the medication. Furthermore, FDA sanctioned the entry of Vioxx into the market, possibly through corruption and undue market influence. Subsequently, the FDA failed to assess the safety of the drugs to ensure that they were meeting the required market standards.

However, according to FDA officials, they were under extreme pressure from the government to facilitate the prompt entry of prescription drugs into the market. As such, they did not have adequate time to monitor the safety and quality of prescription medicine. In general, the development, testing, and release of Vioxx into the market did not satisfy legal and ethical standards because of the possibility f malpractices and corruption. The resistance to comply with the product labeling recommendation proposed by the FDA was a clear example of Merck’s possible involvement in corrupt deals. While Merck eventually complied with the necessary legislation, it had already attracted severe ethical and legal concerns.

Section 5: Merck’s voluntary public recall of Vioxx as an act of corporate social responsibility

Arguably, Merck’s initial actions were dreadfully immoral and socially irresponsible concerning the development and testing of the Vioxx. The marketing and advertisement of controversial medicine also attracted various ethical and challenges. However, the decision to recall the product was an actual act of corporate social responsibility. The recall was an admission of moral and social liability of the severe defects associated with the new product. The recall was an expression of Merck’s ethical obligation t the customers and willingness to correct the error. Furthermore, by recalling Vioxx, Merck demonstrated its ability and willingness to comply with set legal requirements stipulated by the FDA. The company used the opportunity to correct the defects in the products to ascertain its high-quality standards and effectiveness.

In the end, the recall decision would benefit Merck’s stakeholders, such as families and the general members of the public. While most of these stakeholders were the most significant casualties of the flawed Vioxx medicine, the company demonstrated remorse and concern through the recall. Merck also accepted the court’s decision to award compensatory damages to the affected individuals. While the legal and ethical implications were massive, Merck succeeded in changing the negative public perceptions. Furthermore, the recall was a clear demonstration that Merck was willing to become a more socially responsible pharmaceutical company. The recall enabled the firm to incorporate reasonable warnings on its products’ labels to promote rational consumption and decision-making.

 

 

References

Barak, M. E. M. (2016). Managing diversity: Toward a globally inclusive workplace. Sage Publications.

Crane, A., Matten, D., & Spence, L. (Eds.). (2019). Corporate social responsibility: Readings and cases in a global context. Routledge.

Grayson, D., & Hodges, A. (2017). Corporate social opportunity!: Seven steps to make corporate social responsibility work for your business. Routledge.

Hall, M., Greenman, E., & Yi, Y. (2019). Job mobility among unauthorized immigrant workers. Social Forces, 97(3), 999-1028.

Lawrence, A. T., & Weber, J. (2014). Business and society: Stakeholders, ethics, public policy. Tata McGraw-Hill Education.

Liang, H., & Renneboog, L. (2017). On the foundations of corporate social responsibility. The Journal of Finance, 72(2), 853-910.