Analysis of the Penn State/Sandusky Matter

Actors Actions through the Lens of Legal Compliance v. Ethical Compliance

Both notions of legal and ethical compliance aim to shape the moral values of people in society. However, legal compliance focuses on written laws of the states constitution and regulations while ethical compliance emphasizes on the values expected to be followed by people who understand what is right and wrong. A comparison of legal compliance and ethical compliance seeks to provide a relevant understanding of the actions of different participants in a case. A report by Paterno J. emphasizes on the importance of focusing on social issues. Paterno is viewed as an ethical person due to his moral acceptance in the Penn State community, which in turn indicates his morals in society. However, although the attorney general argued that Paterno can be considered as complying with the laws, but he did not act ethically based on the case. Legally, Paterno as a coach handled the children well and ensured that they were safe under his care. Thus, he cannot be punished based on the laws and regulations of Pennsylvania (Alderfer, 2013). On the other hand, he was not ethically compliant since after discovering the sexual abuse he covered up the issues. This indicates the conflict between ethical compliance and legal compliance in the case.

In addition, it should be noted that Jerry Sandusky was charged with sexual abuse, and other university staffs were charged with submitting false information to the grand jury. Jerry Sandusky and the university staffs did not follow the laws and ethics. They ignored the legislation that prohibits sexual abuse and failed to meet the ethical obligations expected from them. Although the law helps to guide people in making decisions in accordance with the constitution and its framework, it does not define the ethical actions of a person. Paterno, McQueary and the university officials had the duty to protect students even beyond their legal obligations as the written laws cannot cover all rightful actions (Alderfer, 2013). After Paterno had found out about child abuse at the university, he did not take any ethical measures but sought to comply with the legal frameworks. This undermined his ability to act ethically.

In relation to Sandusky Scandal, the ability of the university staffs and leaders for ethical compliance is in doubt. Mike McQuery and Joe Paterno lacked ethical values. Paterno as superior was expected to take full responsibility of protecting students (Lewis, & Castellino, 2013). The Pennsylvania law provides that people who work with children should take responsibility of informing the administrative authorities in case of any issues. Nevertheless, Paterno is known for his ethical values, and with his controversial unethical behavior it led to an ethical crisis in Penn State community. Therefore, there is a clear inconsistency between ethical and legal compliance in the case (Albino, 2013).

Penn States Whistleblower Protections and Procedures

In the year 2000, Penn State janitorial staff became witnesses of improper activity between Sandusky and another boy in the institution. The employees who witnessed the action did not report to the superiors in fear of their jobs. This action can be considered under the provision of Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 that operated on the federal but not state level. From another point of view, the janitors acted properly as the government did not provide any guarantee of the protection of whistleblowers. The grand jury stated that there were eight sexual abuse instances in Sanduskys case of sexual abuse. The university did not address the issues and thus, this placed the whistleblowers in danger of losing their jobs. Penn states whistleblower procedures and protections provided that if any lawful disclosures made by the employee with reliable evidence on abuse, fraud, or gross misconduct they would have been protected by the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA) (Lucas, & Fyke, 2013).

Based on the amendments to the Whistleblower Protection Act, the procedures allow reliable disclosures. Recently, the U.S president signed the provision of Whistleblower protection by the law. This seeks to uphold safety to the people who expose fraud, abuse and other threats to the safety of individuals. However, this was not covered to the state level before and thus made it difficult to provide whistleblower protection. According to the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989, any disclosures of illegal actions providing reliable evidence of the violations of laws will be covered with the decision of the congress (Lewis, & Castellino, 2013). In addition, it promotes relevant remedies and intentions to improve protection of the witnesses. The witnesses of Sandusky case were on duty, and thus, any information provided would have been protected at the federal level.

Nevertheless, Penn state procedures and protections did not guarantee safety of their jobs and career growth. In Pennsylvania, an employer could fire an employee for no substantial reasons. Often, the employers are not aware that it is not lawful to fire an employee for reporting an illegal action. In the year 1986, the legislatures of Pennsylvania discussed the Whistle Blower Protection law arguing against employer discharge of employee without reasonable grounds. It was also stated that it was unlawful for an employee to go against another ones since he or she does not have the authority to be involved within an investigation. Therefore, the case of Sandusky in Pennsylvania saw the clear legislation developed to protect a whistleblower from being fired after reporting sexual abuse of minors.

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Utilitarianism

The case of Sandusky may have used the ethical model of Utilitarianism. The theory states that the consequences of a persons actions should be practical and satisfy a majority of his people. The major aspects of Utilitarianism theory state that actions should be right to provide happiness and prevent harm to a majority of people. Nevertheless, there should be substantial ground to relate utilitarianism attitudes to the model. In relation to the Penn State case, it can be argued that director Spanier acted morally in hiding the actions of Sandusky. In keeping the situation secret, he avoided pain to the entire Penn State community (Langvardt, 2012). Thus, Spanier tried to keep the actions from being revealed to the entire community that can be attributed to as the utilitarian approach. Spanier as the president of the university understood that any revelations would not lead to collective happiness in society. Sanduskys lack of ethics caused much pain to the university and the entire Penn state community. He acted imprudently causing harm to eight boys.

Utilitarian theory states that in order to achieve maximum satisfaction, the leaders must cultivate good morals and care for the society rather than their personal interests.A utilitarian approach would argue that the revelation and immoral claims were focused on achieving happiness of the community, which is not advisable. Spanier sought to keep the scandal secret in order to fulfill the provision of the utilitarian approach. On the other hand, Sandusky should have suppressed his ill desire to preserve happiness of majority of people. Based on the utilitarian approach, Paterno was moral. Paterno sacrificed his career in order to preserve Penn State community satisfaction and happiness and still hoped to develop a painless society (Langvardt, 2012). Spanier and Paterno acted morally in protecting the welfare of the entire community. The case may have used Utilitarian theory as it stipulates for protection of a majority of people. However, the decision made by the court seems to favor the minority.

Ethical Leaders V. Effective Leaders Analysis

Ethical understanding assists in providing crucial elements of effective leadership in society. Effective leadership develops the basics of human relations that include responsibility and obligations. Ethical leaders are expected to maintain fundamental aspects of morality that include justice and honesty. Spanier, Paterno and the board of trustees of the university lacked the fundamental principles of ethical leadership by allowing child abuse. Sandusky and Spanier are examples of the leaders who failed to provide effective yet ethical leadership in the university since, effective leadership should be ethical, as well.

The report of Paterno reveals his moral selection on one side of the case. This does not present him as an immoral leader. Nevertheless, the reporting was not satisfying based on the allegations made on him. The leadership of the board of trustees should have been more transparent on the charges and issues arising at the university. The lack of cooperation among the leaders has led to the formation of bad image of the university in the eyes of the entire community. In addition, the board of trustees did not make any formal statements to the victims. This revealed the unethical leadership and admission of the wrongful actions done under their watch (Lucas, & Fyke, 2013). However, the statement to the victims does not interfere with the legal process and public opinion on the case. The Board of the trustees had received a warning of the impending scandal, but they did not take any ethical measures. This indicates their unreasonable actions in promoting relevant ethics in Penn community.

However, the board of trustees has been determined in firing Paterno as the coach of the university. This reveals the leadership pressures on the board of trustees. This decision is not ethical considering the part of Paterno in the scandal. Paterno and Spanier were accountable on the moral responsibility. The leaders lacked ethics, and after the arrest of Sandusky, the community turned against the Penn states university leaders, Paterno and Spanier. Nevertheless, effective leadership should control any negative publicity of an organization (Albino, 2013). The scandal created negative publicity that affected normal operations of the university. Paterno tried to control the situation, but the ethical implications of the scandal were much bigger. Parteno and Spanier did not act unethically and thus effected effective leadership of the University.

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