Case Study Of BNSF Genetic Testing

1238 Words 5 Pages
Register to read the introduction… Their shady, behind the scenes method of conducting these tests broke the fundamental promises that were made when hiring their employees. BNSF is required by contract to provide a safe working environment for each and every employee. On top of the safe environment, the ADA outlines policy to govern privacy and discrimination. The nondisclosure of medical procedures placed their employees at risk. By focusing on these rules alone, and not the overall happiness of the whole company, we can clearly see that BNSF breached deontological ethics. Their genetic testing to determine pre-disposition of CTS is borderline discrimination. In this case, the employees consented to generalized medical examination and not to the detailed blood tests. Employers do maintain certain rights to invade to privacy of their employees. Safety is a prime example. In the interest of safety, it is the employer’s deontological responsibility to provide a safe workplace. Alcohol and drug use on the job would create hazards in the workplace. Testing employees for drugs is not only written in the contract, but also is in the best interest of all parties involved, including fellow employees. However, it is the employer’s responsibility to use the least obtrusive method to obtain their desired results and must also protect the worker’s best interest. During the course of their testing, Burlington Northern did not disclose the …show more content…
BNSF did not request permission to conduct the test. These tests were to be drawn from normal blood samples and held confidential. One of the defenses used by Burlington argued that all information gathered was in the best interest of the employee. The results of these tests would be shared with the employees and proper care and treatment could be garnered. This argument is also flawed in Burlington’s case because their main intent for these blood tests was to determine preexistence of a genetic trait leading to CTS. It can be argued that these tests were performed for the sake of the employee. Had the company told each employee what they were doing up front, I am sure that the workers would have agreed and appreciated the tests. Instead, the tests were to be used against …show more content…
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964[i] denies any unauthorized retention of sensitive medical information on the basis of race or sex. In this case, BNSF did not break federal law by instituting genetic testing. They made certain that each employee was not singled out by reason of race or sex. Though this law may be the precursor to future genetic testing laws, currently there is no mandate covering these tests. The closest Burlington came to breaking the law was in their threats to the 45-year-old track maintenance worker. In that case, had they fired him, they would have broken a State mandate disallowing employers from mandatory genetic blood tests. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, they are attempting to classify genetically predisposed persons under the “impairment” clause, which would make this a discrimination argument. That in turn, would be against the law. The case against Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway gained followers and supporters of all types. At the heart of the argument is the fairness of the settlement. The settlement of $2.2 million was a fair amount to pay for the severe breach in employee privacy. To maintain their utilitarian ethics, BNSF paid the settlement rapidly and without negative press. This ensured the well being of the company as a whole. BNSF continues to do business today and has stopped genetic testing. Although never admitting any

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