Ethics at Workplace

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The Board of Education did breach the privacy rights of Mrs. Pettit. In compliance with the statute, it is unlawful for workers to be involved in the off-duty life of their employees at both public and private institutions. This implies that whatever he or she does should not be the employers' concern until the workers leave the job premises. Apart from being concerned, the latter should not track their employees' actions when they are not at work. The home or any other venue that the worker likes to visit is their personal life. Therefore, when the Board of Education started to investigate Mrs. Pettit out of the school setting, it was simply invading her right to privacy.

Any action on the employer’s part to punish the employee for their actions off duty is illegal in California. And since Mrs. Pettit is a resident of California, the Board of Education had no legal grounds to take the actions they did on her. As a matter of fact, it is they, the boards that are in the wrong simply because Mrs. Pettit was living her life as she saw fit. Therefore, she is entitled to her privacy just like any other publicly employed teacher.

In respect to firing her, the Board of Education was not justified. As mentioned above, employers are mandated not to take any form of action in response to punishing an employee’s misconduct out of work. Mrs. Pettit actions her done in a private setting and nowhere near the educational institution where she used to work. As such, firing her because of this is not justified in any way because whatever happened was not part of her career and teaching abilities. Another reason as to why the Board of Education was not justified in firing Mrs. Pettit is because the grounds for the action were purely based on mere speculation.

The three experts who gave their testimony and advice acted on speculation based on what the undercover cop uncovered. Just as explained from the case study, Justice Tobringer is right to mention that if it were not for the police, the lifestyle of Mrs. Pettit would not be exposed as it was and everything would just be normal. The fact that the experts had their view to explain that she could potentially influence her sexuality views on the students she taught was not justified. She had been teaching for several years and it has never been reported that she subjected her students to her beliefs. Therefore, for them to advise the Board of Education that this is most likely to be the case hold no water and as a way, the board was unjust in firing her.

Question II

Mrs. Pettit’s behavior was more immoral than unprofessional. This is because it is her sexual beliefs and actions that were questionable and not her ability to teach her students. Immoral behavior is what we are likely to consider out of the ordinary in terms of cultural and societal norms. For a married woman, it is believed that Mrs. Pettit ought to be sexually active with her husband only. However, the couple is part of the smaller percentage of our population who practiced “nonconventional sexual lifestyles” (Shaw, 2014). This is not what the society expects of anyone who is in a relation thus making her behavior immoral.

It is the reason she was being discussed by her fellow teachers when one of them recognized them during the television show. To further show that her conduct was immoral, the couple opted to have a disguise on while they attended the show. If their behavior was acceptable to the entire world, then they would not have hidden their faces but since they did, it shows how unnatural their sexual liberation opinions and choices truly are.

However much her behavior was immoral, I do believe she was very fit to teach. First and foremost, she has the skills, experience and intellectual capacity needed to carry out her professional vocation with ease. Shaw (2014) writes that she had been teaching elementary school for over thirteen years and that the Justice Tobringer points out her educational level in his argument clearly shows how qualified she is at teaching. In addition to this, Shaw (2014) adds that “throughout that career, her competence was never questioned and the evaluations from her school principal were always positive.”

The above only goes to show how dedicated Mrs. Pettit was at her teaching career that she did it with passion and dedication more so to the fact that she was working with mentally challenged pupils. Her private life does not in any way affect her teaching capabilities and to speculate for future problems is unjust. As mentioned above, she has held her position for years without any school related scandal over her sexuality. Therefore, it is safe to say that Mrs. Pettit is fit to teach and that the entire scandal and her losing her teaching license would never have occurred if the undercover cop never went to the private party.

Furthermore, there are the previous Supreme Court cases in which the decisions arising from a similar situation as that of Mrs. Pettit were reversed. It was the finding of the court that the public school teacher as accusations against the school teacher for unspecific homosexual conduct did not bear any evidence that he was unfit to teach (Shaw, 2014). The same should be extended to Mrs. Pettit situation as she too did not show any unprofessional misconduct. Although the court argues that Mrs. Pettit’s was a criminal charge, oral copulation, then the previous rulings have to be upheld. On a personal point of view and given the information of the case, in as much as she is guilty of the criminal charge, this does not deter her from her professional obligations and capabilities.

In conclusion, from Mrs. Pettit’s situation, it should be noted that we all have our private lives to live and what we choose to do as consenting adults should be respected as our privacy. As such, she was not wrong for exercising her sexual liberations and her employers had no business in investigating her life. To add on this, she has been doing her job perfectly and more so in a field that most licensed teachers would not last long in. She was dedicated to her pupils and that is why the school’s principal had no complaints about her work and abilities. Firing Mrs. Pettit on speculations and based on someone’s worry over the future was uncalled for thus the Board of Education and the Supreme Court ought to have realized the much output she gives to the school rather than dwell on her sexuality.


Shaw, H. W. (2014). Business Ethics: A textbook with cases. Boston: Cengage Learning

August 09, 2021
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