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    Biological discrimination or discrimination based on genes

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    Make your argument out in terms of utilitarian and eontological considerations

    The Genetic Testing Program at Burlington Northern Railway set the standard for what NOT to do. Railroad Agrees to Stop Gene-Testing Workers By Sarah Schafer.

    What is the one thing that concerns you most about genetic testing in the work place?

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    For this post, you have to begin by stating what « concerns you most about genetic testing in the work place. »

    1. For me I would say that it is its (unstated) aim of using the result of such a test to discriminate against employees, that is, that it is a new form of (biological) discrimination.
    2. One could also be concerned about the secrecy in which the whole procedure is shrouded: carrying out tests on people without their knowledge. This could also raise legal issues.

    Again, you can either take a deontological or a utilitarian approach to address that concern.

    Clearly, Burlington Northern Railway was carrying out the test for utilitarian purposes. In this case, the company was only concerned with maximizing their profit by exploiting their workers to the fullest. And the only way they could exploit them maximally was by treating them as simple tools to be used when useful and thrown away when no longer useful. The test allowed them to know which employee should get hired or fired or promoted or given more responsibilities, etc. In other words, it was a classic case of what the health insurance industry calls a pre-existing condition, which they alone can determine. The test allows them to know who is pre disposed to develop carpal tunnel syndrome; and this despite the fact that scientists are not wholly in agreement that such a test could actually be absolutely relied on to know who is likely to develop the illness or not. Now since they had been carrying out the tests on employees without the knowledge, let alone the consent of the latter, one can only guess how many of them had been terminated or sent on compulsory leave, or fired for other bogus reasons after their tests might have read positive.

    It is good that they agreed to stop testing employees and committed to not resuming the tests in the future. But keep in mind that this is coming after the fact, that is, after they had been caught. The statement from their spokesman, Richard Russack, to the effect that «"The settlement is consistent with the practice we've been following,"» is simply incorrect and a lame attempt to distort the well known facts of the case. They agreed to settle and to stop discriminating only ...

    Solution Summary

    Should the genetic make-up of workers be tested without their knowledge and should the results of such tests be used to discriminate them? This is the ethical issue that this post addresses using the utilitarian and deontological approaches.