Businesses today across the globe must adhere to the employment laws of their government and set internal standards to avoid discrimination in the workplace. Managers need education and knowledge to ensure ethical and non-discriminatory behavior is not only practiced, but also a required standard within the organization. Riordan Manufacturing, according to Apollo Group (2005), ???does not discriminate in employment opportunities or practices on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or any other characteristic protected by law. In order to provide equal employment and advancement opportunities to all individuals, employment decisions at Riordan will be based on merit, qualifications and abilities.???
Riordan Manufacturing??™s China plant must also adhere to employment law that is enforced in China for all employees who are considered host nationals. The Civil Rights Act of 1991, ???protects U.S. citizens-but nor foreign nationals-employed in a foreign country by U.S. controlled employers (Cheeseman, 2004, p812).??? In other words, the Civil Rights Act does not protect the citizens of China, however it does protect any U.S. employees who were assimilated to China to work at Riordan. Ethically speaking, if China did not hold its own employment laws to protect against discrimination, then Riordan should enforce the same treatment of all employees equally. ???There is growing recognition that good ethics can have a positive economic impact on the performance of firms (Joyner and Payne, 2002).??? Regardless if the laws are in place in the foreign operations this suggests that companies can improve their financial bottom line when operating ethically.
When operating in a foreign country, religion can become the basis for a discrimination claim. Often the discriminatory action is not intentional and likely the result of ignorance in not knowing the basis for an action. U.S. companies operating in foreign countries should perform an analysis in regard to culture, religion and their employee demographics to take into consideration the religious holidays or beliefs that make up the employee demographics within the company. According to Douglas Shureen (2004), ???in many instances when an employee or former employee asserts a claim for religious discrimination, whether or not a ???religion??™ is involved is at issue. The question can be troublesome one for courts.??? Douglas Shureen (2004) goes on to say,
Whether plaintiffs can assert that they have been subjected to employment discrimination based on their membership in organizations requires extensive analysis of the ???religion??™ provision in employment discrimination statues. Employers facing these kinds of claims should seek legal counsel as early as possible so that they may be in the best position to determine their rights, and to understand the responsibilities they may owe to their employees.
Aside from possible discrimination due to religion, Riordan must give other consideration to China labor laws. For example, ???During their menstrual periods, female workers must not be engaged in work high above the ground, under low temperature, in cold water, or with ???Grade III physical labor intensity??™ (International Labor Organization, 2008).??? Should a female host national refuse to perform a certain duty, Riordan must consider the question if the female employee is refusing during her menstrual period. For a manager to suspend or dismiss a female worker without consideration to this law could lead to fines imposed by the labour administrative department or a discrimination suit. Additionally, Riordan cannot discriminate by not placing female workers in positions in an effort to avoid this circumstance. Unlike the U.S., labor law in China also speaks specifically to certain types of work that are prohibited to all women.
Discrimination can occur in the workplace either by intentional or unintentional actions by organizations like Riordan. The best protection for Riordan and other companies operating in foreign countries is education and legal counsel to develop and implement internal guidelines in regard to employment practices. As discussed, countries such as China recognize different labor laws than that of the U.S. and for Riordan to think that they can enforce the same employment practices in China is naive. By educating management and even corporate of the policies that require consideration in the host environment, discrimination claims can be held to a minimum or none. Companies operating international have an ethical responsibility to seek the knowledge needed to meet the labor laws in the foreign country as well as the U.S. labor laws for those employees who are assimilated to the operation from the United States.
Apollo Group. (2005). Retrieved February 9, 2008 from University of Phoenix at https://ecampus.phoenix.edu/secure/aapd/CIST/VOP/Business/Riordan/Ops/RioOps002.htm
Cheeseman, H.R. (2004). Business Law: Legal, E-Commerce, Ethical and International Environments (5th Edition). Published by Prentice-Hall. Upper Saddle River, NJ.
Joyner, B.E., Payne, D. (2002). Evolution and implementation: A study of values, business ethics and corporate social responsibility. Journal of Business Ethics, 3 41(4), 297-311. Retrieved February 10, 2008, from ABI/INFORM Global database. (Document ID: 280110721).
International Labor Organization (2008). Labour Law of the People??™s Republic of China of 5 July 1994. Retrieved on February 10, 2008 from http://www.ilo.org/public/english/employment/gems/eeo/law/china/ll.htm
Shureen, D. D. (2004, April). What Is “Religion” for Purposes of Employment Discrimination Cases Employee Relations Law Journal, 29(4), 35-45. Retrieved February 10, 2008, from ABI/INFORM Global database. (Document ID: 601396051).