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									Unethical Behavior Of A Big Business From Today’s Society


                     Jordan Vinson
                       10/17/2006
                     First term paper
       There have been many incidents in the past decade of firms committing acts that

would fall under the category of unethical behavior. One type of unethical behavior in a

firm has shown to be on an individual level in an upper- management position in the firm.

This can be done by a CEO and other upper- management position involved by

fluctuating the annual reports to make it look like the company is really more profitable

and successful than they really were due to the business operations over that time period.

This misinformation stated in the annual reports is looked at and analyzed by the current

and potential shareholders of the company, and usually is very critical to the decision to

stay or invest into this company’s stock. Another way this individual can commit acts of

unethical behavior is to essentially steal from the company. The individual can control a

part or all of the funds to the company and can manage the embezzlement of the funds

from the company without raising any attention. Most of the incidents like this that end

up being publicly recognized are usually caused by this individual to successfully steal

money from the company at first and not be caught. This individual then almost makes a

habit out of constantly stealing money from the company and hiding any occurrence of

the incident so shareholders and board of directors cannot find out about the illegal acts.

The common intention for this unethical behavior is to instantly reward the individuals

involve with sums of money at the expense of the company as a whole. Another type of

unethical behavior in a firm is when there are usually multiple individuals and even

sectors involved with an incident. A usual occurrence of this type of unethical behavior

involves selling faulty or unsatisfactory goods and/or services provided by the company.

The company can be well aware of the potential harm a certain group of products might

have but will intentionally ignore and hide it just to sell more products and turn a higher
profit. A recent example of this can be Nestle with the skeptical baby food prod ucts they

sell on the market. The difference with this type of unethical behavior is that the behavior

is caused by an interest to drastically improve the business through its operations and

increased profits instead of an individual focus. The people being negatively affected

through this unethical behavior are different from the first type of unethical behavior.

Instead of the company suffering the negative affects, the consumers are focused on

taking the fall for this. This paper will focus on the different incidents mainly of the

second type of unethical behavior described above of the Coca-Cola Company.

       In today’s society, people seem to look for reasons to file the next lawsuit. From a

woman suing Kellogg Company for indirectly being the reason her ho use burning down

when she left her house and unintentionally left a pop tart in the toaster to an

unbelievable small claims complaint of a man who blamed watching television for the

past four years to be the reason why he drinks and smokes and why his wife is

overweight. On a side note, he was receiving free cable services for the previous four

years and still felt the urge to complain about free service. On the other hand, there are

many legitimate lawsuits that help keep business firms from taking advantage of

consumers by committing unethical behavior.

       Coca-Cola Company has been sued by many different people and for several

different reasons. Coca-Cola was founded in May 1886 by Doctor John Pemberton, who

was a pharmacist from Atlanta. Being a pharmacist, it is not surprising that the product

contain a significant amount of drugs in it. It was determined that up until 1903, each

serving of this beverage usually contained around 60mg of cocaine coming from the coca

leaves. Around this same time, the New York Tribune published an article that linked this
product with crime and urged for legal issues be brought onto Coca-Cola. In the early

20th Century, the company was prosecuted for the clearly unethical and illegal actions of

combining drugs with their product to create an addicting force between the product and

the consumers. Coca-Cola Company’s idea of creating customer loyalty was aimed more

at addicting the customer to the product over developing a relationship between the

customer and the company through a phenomenal customer service. The company was

well aware that Cocaine was an addicting and unsafe substance but instead focused on the

positive effects advertising that Coke was “a product that relieves exhaustion”. Cocaine

became illegal in 1914 for any use and Coca-Cola had the substance removed from their

product by then. The unethical behavior of the company was not to cross the line with

serious legal issues of this caliber and moved onto substituting caffeine for cocaine.

       In October 2006, Coca-Cola Company was sued for an insufficient label. The

lawsuit claimed that since the label was insufficient, the labels were misleading the

consumers. Obviously, the customers feel like the product was marketed to give a

different perception of what the product actually is or the effects it has on the consumer.

If the allegations were true, then misleading the consumers implies the company is

focusing more on their own personal needs for constant success over the needs of the

customers. This can be easily classified as unethical behavior by the company and can be

seen as morally wrong. The company is essentially trying to profit from the

misconception and misguidance of the marketing for the product. It all depends on how

someone interprets unethical behavior of whether Coca-Cola’s actions can be considered

unethical or immoral for society.
       Although it is clear as to what is meant by unethical behavior, it is unclear as to

what all accounts for this. In 2003, there was concern for a lawsuit resulting from the five

year deal Coca-Cola Company has with the Seattle Public Schools. The School’s

commitment with Coca-Cola infuriated some parents of the children that attend these

schools because they feel the deal is not helping the school provide healthy alternatives

for snacks available at school. Now this can be classified as unethical behavior of Coca-

Cola Company for signing these deals with Public Schools if the responsibility is placed

on the producer to have the obligation to make healthy food products. In a sense, all the

company did was recognized the demand for sweet and unhealthy products, especially

from children and young adults, and created a supply of these type of products to create

more profits within the company from what the consumers wanted. It may be unethical to

create these products, since it can and usually does lead to health-related risks but the

problem with ethics issues is a solid point of wrongdoing. Coca-Cola Company does

make these unhealthy products but it is unclear whether the blame should fall on the

company or the consumers. Coca-Cola Company has fallen under the microscope of

ethics because some of their products they produce is said to be a good substitute for

house plumbing cleaners due to the acids in Coke. It has also drawn worldwide attention

from other negative incidents where once again the company is involved indirectly in

harmful acts towards people.

       During late July 2001, Coca-Cola was threatened by a major lawsuit that involved

the company violating human rights that caused five hundred employees at Coca-Cola

plants in Columbia harm or death. The lawsuit is a response of Coca-Cola trying to take

advantage of foreign aid to help cut costs of producing the product. The plants opened in
Colombia were caused by the lower standard for labor rates in the country. When many

of the workers were taken advantage of, the workers formed a union to protect their rights

and improve their standards of living. The lawsuit claims that Coca-Cola was not happy

with this “unnecessary jump in wages” so they hired a death squad that kidnapped and

even killed union members to send a message that the union will have no part in the

Coca-Cola plants. Now it may be hard to justify these actions of the company, other than

just taking the typical response by just denying everything, while maintaining a good

reputation. These allegations and some more related at the company are still being

pursued up to this current time with a newly released article being published about this

issue on October 16, 2006.

       Allegations have been made that involve environmental issues Coca-Cola is

neglecting in India. Coca-Cola has been directly responsible for the loss of supply of

water by consuming large amounts of water taken from the water wells. The company

then expelled of the waste water into nearby fields and even rivers. In two communities

in India, the company even sold its toxic waste to farmers claiming it was fertilizer. The

company would respond to this allegation as they do not take part in such activities in any

place around the world. The company would be truthful in their claims at least for India’s

sake thanks to the state government jumping in and ordering the company to stop this

unethical and potentially harmful practice.

       Coca-Cola Company has repeatedly committed acts of unethical behavior

throughout the life of the business. From the start of the business when cocaine was a key

ingredient in the products to current times where the company is sacrificing human-rights

and environmental issues in order to save up money from expenses and wages the
business is ethically obligated to incur. It seems the more the company grows, the more

unethical behavior the company becomes involved in. The company seems to have

developed the mindset of cutting costs and raising revenues at any cost necessary and is

starting to become more involved in unethical and even criminal acts in order to succeed

as one of the top business companies of the world. The size and importance of Coca-Cola

to society seems to be somewhat shielding them of any serious consequences of their

unethical actions. This company should therefore be critical in their decisions or

eventually their negative acts will come back to haunt them, no matter the size of the firm.
                                      Reference List

(July 2, 2003). Coke deal could make schools target of suits.

       http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/129155_coke02.html

http://www.cokewatch.org/images/Kidnapping.pdf

(October 14, 2006). Kidnapping Torture Murder.

       http://www.turkishdailynews.com.tr/article.php?enewsid=56677

California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse.

       http://www.cala.com/hallofshame/index.cfm?pnav=10

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/unethical

Coca-Cola, CIA, and the Courts. http://www.skolnicksreport.com/cocaccc.html

(June 4, 1985). Is It true Coca-Cola Once Contained Cocaine?.

       http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a2_033.html

The History of Cocaine. http://www.innerbody.com/text/drug18.html

Crack Cocaine. http://www.cocaine.org/

Coca-Cola History. http://www.solarnavigator.net/sponsorship/coca_cola.htm

(July 20, 2001). Coke sued over death squad claims.

       http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/1448962.stm

(October 16, 2006). MSA pushes for representation at forum.

       http://www.mndaily.com/articles/2006/10/13/69414

Campaign to hold Coca-Cola Accountable.

       http://www.indiaresource.org/campaigns/coke/

								
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