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Employee’s Right to Privacy

In the United States, laws such as Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 require certain organizations to screen potential candidates for employment by having them undergo drug-tests before being accepted. Similarly, companies who wish to deal with government agencies such the Department of Transportation and Department of Defense are required by law to have employees undergo mandatory drug testing. But even though drug testing is legal in the United States, it has always been a controversial issue between employers and employees.

Employees complain that mandatory and random drug testing in the office steps over the bounds of corporate ethics and invades into the privacy of employees. Some employees who use prohibited substances recreationally and do not come to work under the influence argue that what they do outside the office should not be the business of the employer as long as employees do not harm anyone or bring shame and embarrassment to the company.

Companies will counter that the employer has the right to find out about the employee to see if she is fit for the job and drug-testing is important in judging the appropriateness of the employee. The issue is not that easy resolve even for a philosophy such as deontology since the issue concerns more of beliefs rather than actions. From the viewpoint of deontology we condone irresponsibility and any employee who uses prohibited substances can be rightfully suspected to be irresponsible and immoral (Darwall 78).

Therefore employees who test positive for drugs should not be employed as they are irresponsible. However the deontological viewpoint does not necessarily argue that all potential employees should undergo drug testing since this would assume guilt among all employees based on the actions of a few offenders and this would certainly be an injustice (Singer 56). Although the employer has the responsibility to ensure a safe working environment and capable employees and screen out drug offenders, it also has a responsibility to employees who do not use drugs.

A better action therefore would be for companies to only test those employees who they can justifiably suspect as being drug users such as those previously indicted for drug possession or drug use. Viewing the issue from the utilitarian point of view is similarly open to interpretation as one would have to do a cost-benefit analysis to find out whether the positive aspects of mandatory drug testing outweigh its negative implications (Shaw 92).

Utilitarians would be willing to forsake the privacy of the employees if the outcome justifies it, or if the end justifies the means. If mandatory drug testing is proven to achieve the goals it has been set for without gaining the anger of the employees too much, then it can be justified according to utilitarians. However, if the issue brings disorder and clamor from many employees who protest the mandatory drug testing and consequently disrupts productivity then drug testing should not be adopted.

In the end I believe that both the company and the employees are right in arguing for and against drug testing, it should depend on the circumstances, the situation and for similar factors to be considered. Works Cited: Darwall, Stephen L. Deontology. New York: Wiley-Blackwell, 2003. Print. Mill, John Stuart. Utilitarianism. Tuttle Publishers, 1993. Print. Singer Peter. Practical Ethics. London: Cambridge University Press, 2003. Print. Shaw, William H. Contemporary Ethics. New York: Wiley-Blackwell, 1999. Print.

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