If the law or action inhibits only rights related to economic or social welfare , it will be upheld so long as there is any rational basis on which the classification might relate to a legitimate government interest. PRIVACY RIGHTS Despite the lack of any explicit right to privacy in the Bill of Rights, the courts have implied a fundamental right to personal privacy from the provisions of the First, Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Ninth Amendments. In addition, Congress has passed a number of statutes protecting individuals’ privacy rights, including the Freedom of Information Act , which affords individuals access to information collected about them by the federal government; Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) , which requires health-care providers and health-care plans, including certain employer-sponsored plans, to inform patients/plan members of their privacy rights and to safeguard personal medical records from disclosure for non-health care purposes; and Electronic Communications Privacy Act , which prohibits intercepting information communicated by electronic means. -15-
The USA Patriot Act , enacted in 2001, empowers government agencies to access and monitor electronic, financial, and other personal data and communication. BUSINESS ETHICS: AN INTRODUCTION Ethics: Moral principles and values applied to social behavior. Business Ethics: Moral principles and values applied to situations that arise in a business setting. A particular challenge facing businesses is ethically balancing the competing demands of multiple groups of stakeholders - e.g. , shareholders, employees, retirees, suppliers, creditors, customers, the communities in which the business operates - whose lives are affected by business decisions. “LEGAL” VS. “ETHICAL” Legal Behavior: While certain actions are clearly legal or illegal, many decisions faced by businesses fall within one or more “gray areas” of the law, where probability, rather than certainty, will guide the decisionmakers. Ethical Behavior: Even where a contemplated action is clearly legal (or, in some circumstances, illegal), business decisionmakers should also consider whether the action is “ethical.” While personal ethics are (or can be) subjective, certain guides are available to businesses trying to meet or exceed the moral minimum ( i.e. , the minimally acceptable standard for ethical business behavior): corporate and professional codes of ethics and compliance programs; public opinion and sentiment; and, of course, personal morality . For businesses operating in more than one place, the moral minimum may vary from place to place - particularly when businesses operate abroad. SETTING THE ETHICAL TONE Management Attitudes: Managers who are not committed to creating and maintaining an ethical workplace rarely have one.