Term Paper: Code of Ethics in the Department of Justice

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Code of Ethics as Applicable to the Department of Justice

The topic of ethics from the aspect of a professional and scientific viewpoint has emerged as a topic of significant concern in recent years, both for the Department of Justice and for other organizations as well. Ethics is generally a term used to describe a set of values that describe what is right or wrong, good or bad. As a result, guidelines and discussions surrounding ethics should be applicable to a broad range of cases, as conflicts are likely to arise between ethical principles. Any system of ethical principles is derived from philosophical reasoning, and research in this area indicates that if we have a system of a few principles that apply in all cases and are never contradictory, we have a clear and precise ethical system. As easy as it sounds, however, this is not always the case. This paper examines and analyzes the Code of Ethics from a professional and scientific viewpoint, from the angle of the Department of Justice and other organizations alike.

The majority of organizations today have developed an ethical approach based on principles that also considers consequences. Individuals shape the corporate culture, especially those in management positions. Thus a manager's ethical responsibilities includes his or her contributions to the company's ethical personality. A professional code should deal with the responsibilities of managers and others in positions of leadership. Whatever the ethical stance or obligation of an organization, it is clear that individuals still have ethical obligations when they see something that is wrong, especially if it can cause great harm. This obligation extends to citizens of countries and to the acts of their governments.

Code of Ethics (Guidelines)

At the Department of Justice, from the initial design of the Bureau of Justice Statistic surveys through the dissemination and maintenance of statistics, Bureau of Justice Statistic staff are governed by the ASA's Ethical Guidelines for Statistical Practice. The ASA's Ethical Guidelines represent the consensus of the professional statistical community for both the public and private sectors (U.S. Department of Justice, at (http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/dataquality/overview.htm).The ASA's Ethical Guidelines address eight general topic areas and specify important ethical considerations under each topic. The topics include professionalism in the competence and judgment of statisticians, ethical behavior regarding allegations of misconduct, and responsibilities in publications, testimony, and research subjects (U.S. Department of Justice, at (http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/dataquality/overview.htm).The ethical guidelines promulgated by the ASA apply to the professional activities of all Bureau of Justice statistical staff without regard to seniority level (U.S. Department of Justice, at (http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/dataquality/overview.htm)..

Discrepancy between Males and Females

Laws affecting males and females in the workplace and equality are topics that have stirred great national debate, resulting in laws that protect and ensure such rights. Legally and linguistically, affirmative action is a proactive attempt to improve the employment or educational opportunities for members of minority groups and for women. An affirmative action plan outlines steps a company will take to recruit, hire, and promote such protected group members. Affirmative action also makes provisions for documenting the numbers and percentages of the company's workforce of minority group members and women. Organizations are legally required to produce a written affirmative action plan only if they are government nonconstruction contractors or subcontractors of $50,000 or more, or if they are under a court order because someone has demonstrated that the company or other legal entity has a pervasive history of discrimination. A company's affirmative action plan must contain a detailed analysis of the employer's current workforce by race and sex, an analysis of representation and utilization of minorities or women.

The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has responsibility for enforcing Executive Order No. 11,246 (amended by Executive Orders 11,375 and 12,086) by specifically prohibiting job discrimination by government contractors based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or veteran's or military status. It is the responsibility of the employer to hire and promote from a broad pool of talent that makes no distinction on the basis of a characteristic covered by protection clauses. Reverse discrimination, or discrimination against whites, has also received great attention in the courts. However, white males are not defined as members of a protected group under the law. If the company is under a court order to increase its minority or female population, or if the company has a proven history of deliberate discrimination injuring nonwhites or women, white males may not succeed in seeking legal remedies.

This is a result of the historical background of such cases. The courts have ruled that nonwhites and women have suffered far more unfair treatment for a much longer period of time. White males have historically hired and promoted white males to the exclusion and detriment of other people merely on the basis of race or gender. As a result, the courts have ordered that where historical exclusion has occurred, protected groups must receive special consideration. Several major pieces of legislation deal with the definition of what exactly constitutes a protected group. The outcome is that discrimination on any factor, whether it is race, color, gender, religion, creed, national origin, age, disability, or military status is protected against. The Department of Justice has been especially careful not to discriminate against anyone whose group of origin has historically experienced unfair hiring, management, or firing practices, and that now can demonstrate that its chances for equal opportunity in employment can be achieved only through legislation and legal guidelines.

Profiling in Hiring

Gender, age and race profiling in hiring are issues that have received great criticism in their discriminatory application. The United States Department of Justice announced a few years ago the use of existing federal civil rights laws to take legal action against businesses and state and local governments that engage in employment discrimination against Gay and transgender persons (Chibbaro, 1998). This move was said to reflect a significant response on the part of the Justice Department generally to seriously apply existing laws in ways that can remedy current injustices against Gay people and gender-non-conforming people. The theory behind this was that the same civil rights statutes that explicitly ban discrimination based on sex can be applied to cases of anti-gay discrimination in a number of circumstances (Chibbaro, 1998). The Department of Justice was given the initiative to take on such cases, even though no federal civil rights law explicitly bans discrimination based on sexual orientation (Chibbaro, 1998).

It was noted that this effort by the Department of Justice could not be used to assist Gays or transgendered people who suffer discrimination based solely on their sexual orientation. All Americans are entitled to protection under existing laws that cover them, and if a gay or transgendered person is discriminated against for some reason other than their sexual orientation, the Department of Justice may take on the case (Chibarro, 1998). As a result, the Department of Justice applied the gender stereotyping strategy to a number of other instances where gay and transgendered persons commonly face discrimination or harassment (Chibarro, 1998). Also included is the anti-gay harassment of students in public schools and anti-gay discrimination or harassment in prisons (Chibarro, 1998). Furthermore, the Department of Justice will also consider taking action against local police departments that fail to provide adequate protection for gay and transgendered people (Chibarro, 1998).

Age discrimination can also be a problem in hiring profiling. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) makes it illegal to discriminate against anyone over the age of 40 or to force someone into retirement because he or she has reached a certain age. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as reinforced by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), expands the definition of "protected groups" to include individuals with a disability that substantially limits one or more major life activities, who have a record of such impairment, or who are perceived as having such an impairment, who with or without reasonable accommodation can perform the essential functions of the job that he or she holds or wants. Those not covered include applicants and current employees currently using controlled substances; homosexuals, bisexuals, transvestites, and persons whose sexual behaviors do not stem from physical impairments; compulsive gamblers, kleptomaniacs, pyromaniacs, and people who experience compulsive psychoactive substance use disorders. The disability acts and their administrative guidelines also provide general guidelines for "reasonable accommodation."

Lawsuits alleging various forms of discrimination, such as the ones above, in the workplace more than tripled in the decade of the 1990s, according to the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics: from 9,936 in 1990 to 21,540. Whether or not an employer is innocent of the claims, court battles are very costly. Therefore, many employers find it more practical to settle out of court to avoid long legal battles and potentially high jury awards.

Reality vs. Morality of Ethics

Moral ethics were at the heart of a 2001 national study conducted by Barna Research Group. That study revealed that only one out of four adults lean primarily on religious principles and… [END OF PREVIEW]

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