This post deals with a fictional company (BSSL) and it’s New Orleans-based casino. The casino has recently become the target of terrorist actions against Arab-Americans and Middle Eastern nationals.
In a situation where a company is being threatened to discriminate against an ethnic group, there are legal and ethical considerations to be addressed. Although the considerations are fairly obvious, the company in question may find itself in an even more difficult situations if threats escalate to violence.
It is common knowledge that a proprietor has the right to refuse service to anyone. That maxim is generally true, but the Civil Rights Act of 1964 guarantees that service can not be denied based on race, color, religion, or national origin. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of this act in two famous cases: Atlanta Motel v. U.S. (1964) and Katzenback v. McClung (1964). Both cases brought int question the constitutionality of the 1964 Act based on the interstate commerce enjoyed at their locations. The BSSL casino, “The Queen of the Nile,” is now being asked to refuse service to a group based on their national origin. Like the aforementioned cases, the casino does not have the right to refuse such service and would soon find itself in litigation by so doing.
The ethical question relating to discrimination is easily resolved. In its ruling of Atlanta Motel v. U.S. (1964), the U.S. Supreme Court acknowledged that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was legislation “against what [Congress] considered to be moral wrongs” (para. 5). Additionally, although four airlines denied any discrimination against Arab-Americans, the embarrassment relating to such a disclosure was enough to get them to agree to spend $1.5 million on civil rights training (Ferrell, Fraedrich, & Ferrell, 2008). Therefore, it is obvious that the only ethical decision available to is to continue to service all customers regardless of race, color, religion, or national origin.
The real question in this case relates to the safety of patrons and employees of BSSL’s The Queen of the Nile casino. Since the hate group involved in this case has escalated to violence, there is a serious threat to the community. Since BSSL does not have the legal or ethical option to acquiesce to the demands of the terrorists, they must choose between shutting down the casino completely or remaining open and risk more violence. For the safety of the public, The Queen of the Nile should temporarily shut down while law enforcement works against the terrorist group. Additionally, staff should be able to choose to remain at home if they feel threatened by the working conditions. Since the casino can not be expected to remain closed indefinitely, it should re-open its doors after a brief time and resume normal operations. BSSL will need to work with local law enforcement to provide the security necessary to protect both the staff and patrons of The Queen of the Nile.
Atlanta Motel v. U.S., 379 U.S. 241 (1964).
Ferrell, O. C., Freadrich, J., & Ferrell, L.. (2008). Business ethics: Ethical decision making and cases (7th ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Katzenback v. McClung, 379 U.S. 294 (164).