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As a matter of fact, genetic testing in the workplace is considered to be an advantageous phenomenon that should be implemented in the process of controlling and influencing the job market. However, it is worth stating that there is no common opinion regarding this issue, and that is, the decision cannot be taken until all the potential risks are eliminated. The genetic testing is believed to be beneficial not only for the employers but for the employees as well. Nevertheless, one should not forget about the ethical side of the problem as it should also be addressed. The main purpose of the paper is to evaluate and critically discuss the ethical concerns regarding the implementation of genetic testing in the workplace and to provide potential resolutions to the dilemmas.
Ethical Dilemma of the Genetic Testing in the Workplace
Due to technological advances and the rapid development of science, genetic analysis becomes commonly used. Nowadays, it is possible to analyze the makeup of the genes in the body of a human being. It is worth highlighting that understanding the genetic peculiarities of the diseases and interrelation with the environment the enterprises came up with a fresh idea, namely the application of the genetic testing to control and reduce the level of employees’ suffering form from the illnesses because of the working conditions. However, this question consequently led to the debates regarding the medical, social, and ethical sides of the problem.
According to recent researches, genetic testing will beneficially impact the index of occupational diseases (Genetics in the workplace: Implications for occupational safety and health, 2009). It can be considered as the perfect tool for protecting the employees for possible risks of adverse outcomes. Genetic testing is supposed to help employers hire workers without health-related issues. Furthermore, it will secure the families that can lose the member.
Although being focused on disease control and securing the employees, genetic testing is a controversial approach while some ethical dilemmas are associated with this issue. First and foremost, it should be highlighted that there are two theories that commonly used while discussing this problem, namely utilitarian and virtue ethics. The ethical dilemma is focused on answering the question is genetic testing useful for the working process? Does it have to do with the discrimination, and what will be the consequences of the implementation of this approach?
It should be stated that the genetic analysis has almost no difference in comparison to other types of medical research (Brandt-Rauf, Borak, & Deubner, 2015). However, the problem is that the result obtained by genetic testing can be interpreted in a wrong way or misused. As a matter of fact, the human organism responds to the hazardous environment or materials.
Occupational diseases are usually the consequence of the interaction between the human being and the hazardous chemicals at the workplace. Genetic testing can evaluate the potential level of risk and reduce it. Scientists usually refer to the term susceptibility examining the possible ways the human body may react to the hazardous environment. Although on the one hand identifying the risk group is beneficial for their health protection, from the other, the implementation of the policies may lead to discrimination and economic difficulties of those whose health aimed to be protected.
Moreover, the policies can be viewed as the desire to control not only the working place but the staff as well. The economic factor influences the employer and employees, and that is, should be considered before application of the genetic policy. The employers should be ready to cover high spending on the health care. The employees will benefit from the protection as they will be healthier; however, the economic aspect will significantly affect their decision, being at the risk of losing the job they can prefer to stay and get compensation from the work in the case something had happened.
The discrimination of the employees after the genetic testing is the major issue that demands the solution (Brandt-Rauf & Gershon, 2011). Even in the case when the employee is healthy he can be fired. To get better involved in the problem, it would be informative to draw attention to the following examples that illustrate the discrimination. The results of the genetic testing revealed that the employee was a carrier of Gaucher’s disease.
Although it does not affect his health and he can only pass this disease to children, he got fired, despite the fact that the illness does not affect the work performance. Another real story proves that people can be rejected during the interview in every place they come. According to the results of genetic testing, a man had an asymptomatic hemochromatosis. Although the companies told that they would like to take him, they rejected because he had some genetic issues. The man was rejected in every interview.
Utilitarianism and Virtue Ethics
In order to get better involved in the issue and provide some possible ways of solution of the ethical dilemmas, the issue should be analyzed by the two major philosophical movements, namely utilitarianism and virtue ethics.
Utilitarianism is focused on the describing the action as the moral one in the case it provides the community with the positive consequences. It is worth highlighting that utilitarianism is considered to be a form of philosophy based on the outcomes. The fundamental idea is that the morally good action has the positive outcome. In the case morally bad action occurs for the sake of the larger group of people, the action can be justified.
Normative ethics comprises three major directions, namely deontology, consequentalism, and virtue ethics. The theories have some common points, however, differ in the core meaning. It is easy to understand by taking into consideration the following example. In the case the person needs help, and it is evident, the follower of the utilitarian theory will think about consequences and the impact they will have on a greater group, the deontologist will act according to the moral rules and principles, and a person who follows the virtue ethics will be sure that helping people is noble and charitable (Nelson & Kelsey, 2014). According to the virtue ethics, the consequences are useless in the case the individual suffers, from this point of view, genetic testing is not appropriate and should not be implemented.
The ethical dilemmas can be solved on the base of philosophical theories. People, who follow the utilitarianism, will point their attention towards the consequences and possible implications the application of genetic testing will have on the individual and society in general. According to the principles of the utilitarianism, the society will benefit from the implementation of the genetic testing, despite the fact that some individuals will suffer.
The good of the larger group is in priority. First and foremost, by eliminating the risks of the occupational diseases, the employer secures his future expenses on compensation. Hiring only healthy workers is discrimination; however, the productivity, effectiveness, and the revenue are likely to increase with impressive speed. The society will benefit from the application of the genetic testing. Using the genetic tests at the workplace people get results, innovate the process, improve the development, and make progress. The ethics may change, the utilitarianism is centered on the good of the society, and it should be highlighted that genetic test will improve the living standards and will facilitate the life.
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The results of the implementation of the genetic tests can be estimated; however, ethics cannot. All the technical advances were made in contrast to ethics. In the vast majority of the cases, the ethics change overtime. Ethics in the relation to the religion was an obstacle concerning the development of the science and technological progress. Nevertheless, the society overcame these difficulties; however, the amount of scientists who suffered is impressive. The question arises, would the world be different if religion was not an obstacle to the progress?
The resolution to this dilemma can be the following. First and foremost, the employer should hire the worker even if he has some genetic issues, but only those that do not influence the performance of the tasks. Every person has the right place in the world where he or she can be successful if everyone will find this niche, the society will experience the rapid development and improvement, the number of jobless people will be reduced. The world changes every day; the globalization process gains momentum, and the society cannot follow the ethical or moral values that were of a current interest during the ancient times.
Ethics is changeable, and that is, the genetic test will not be considered as the discrimination as they aim not to discriminate but to secure and protect people and to improve the effectiveness, for the society to benefit. Furthermore, there is the notion of ethical relativism that stresses that there are no universal rules, and certain actions can be considered as the moral for one person and immoral for another. One should keep in mind that morality and ethics are not the synonyms and sometimes may contradict each other as vegetarians believe that it is not moral to eat meat; however, they are sure that the government has no right to force anyone to eat only vegetables as it is unethical.
Every breakthrough was not welcomed in the society at first. It is in human nature not to trust and reject everything new. However, it should be stressed that ethics catches up and changes to be appropriate for the new conditions. Genetic testing is a completely new level of development, and it is no doubt that the majority of people are against of it. The reason is the fear of changes, innovation, and adjusting to new circumstances. The progress would not be possible without overcoming the difficulties. Taking into consideration all the benefits that genetic tests bring along, the best solution will be to test the system on some corporation and draw the conclusions. People will never know the results until they try.
In conclusion, it should be pointed out that the implementation of the genetic testing in the workplace demands further discussions and investigations. Before making a decision all the advantages and disadvantages of the application of the policies should be taken into consideration. Furthermore, ethical dilemmas should be addressed to and solved. As the matter of fact, the implementation of the genetic testing in the working process on the one hand will secure the employees; however, from the other it will lead to increasing health care costs for the employer and difficulties in finding a new job for the workers. Nevertheless, the society will benefit from the application of the genetic tests as it will contribute to effectiveness, productivity, and prosperity.
Brandt-Rauf, P., Borak, J., & Deubner, D. (2015). Genetic screening in the workplace. Journal of occupational and environmental medicine, 57(3), 17-18.
Brandt-Rauf, S., & Gershon, R. (2011). Genes, jobs, and justice. Ethics & medicine, 27(1), 51-61.
Genetics in the workplace: Implications for occupational safety and health. (2009). Cincinnati, OH: Createspace Independent Publishing.
Nelson, H., & Kelsey, K. (2014). Genetic susceptibility in the workplace: A scientific and ethical challenge. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 71(4), 229-230.