This is “Case Studies”, section 2.5 from the book Business Ethics (v. 1.0).
This book is licensed under a Creative Commons by-nc-sa 3.0 license. See the license for more details, but that basically means you can share this book as long as you credit the author (but see below), don't make money from it, and do make it available to everyone else under the same terms.
This content was accessible as of December 29, 2012, and it was downloaded then by Andy Schmitz in an effort to preserve the availability of this book.
Normally, the author and publisher would be credited here. However, the publisher has asked for the customary Creative Commons attribution to the original publisher, authors, title, and book URI to be removed. Additionally, per the publisher's request, their name has been removed in some passages. More information is available on this project's attribution page.
For more information on the source of this book, or why it is available for free, please see the project's home page. You can browse or download additional books there. You may also download a PDF copy of this book (20 MB) or just this chapter (748 KB), suitable for printing or most e-readers, or a .zip file containing this book's HTML files (for use in a web browser offline).
Source: Leslie Adams, http://www.ugo.com/the-goods/calculator-tattoo.
In the mid-1980s in Los Angeles, Somen “Steve” Banerjee and his friend Nick DeNoia pooled money to start a new kind of strip club: men baring it for women. Since they had no idea what they were doing, it didn’t go well. What finally helped was a couple of showmen from Las Vegas. Steve Merrit and his partner (professional and romantic) Mark Donnelly came aboard and hatched the idea of a Vegas-type song-and-dance show wrapped around the disrobing.
To find performers, they cruised the muscle beaches outside LA. They brought the guys back to a studio, applied some Village People–style outfits (policeman, fireman, construction worker, and so on), and ran the group through a line-dancing routine.
Their idea was simple but innovative: sex sells; but instead of making the show lustful, they made it entertaining. Drawing on their Las Vegas experience, Merrit and Donnelly understood how to do it, how to produce a fun theatrical fantasy instead of a crude flesh show. The general concept made sense and the execution was professional, but on opening night, no one knew what would happen.
Chippendales exploded. Women went crazy for the performances, first in the United States, then Europe, and then everywhere as Banerjee and DeNoia rushed to form multiple traveling versions of their production. The time they didn’t spend together mounting the shows they spent in court fighting over who was entitled to how much of the profits and who really owned the suddenly very valuable Chippendales name and concept. The dispute ended in 1987 after DeNoia was shot dead in his office.
One major problem Chippendales faced is that it wasn’t a hard show to copy. Get some muscled guys, some uniform-store costumes, a pop music soundtrack, and pound it all together into a dance routine with a little teasing; you don’t need a genius to do it. So others started.
Michael Fullington was a junior choreographer for Chippendales. He struck up a friendship with some of the showguys, and they split away into a group called Club Adonis. The original choreographers—Merrit and Donnelly—also got in on the act, forming their own traveling revue called Night Dreams.
Unhappy with these copycat acts, Banerjee hired a hit man to go around killing the whole bunch. The hit man, it turned out, was an FBI informant. Banerjee ended up in jail. The ensuing investigation led to more charges. There was arson (he’d burned down one of his own clubs for the insurance money some time back) and also another count of conspiracy to murder since it was Banerjee who’d arranged to have his original partner shot.
The case never got to trial. Banerjee agreed to plead guilty, absorb a twenty-six-year sentence, and give up his rights to Chippendales along with nearly all his money and real estate holdings.
While the lawyers worked out the details, Banerjee’s wife Irene worked feverishly to organize a group of character witnesses. By bringing a parade of people to testify about her husband’s good side at the sentencing hearing, she was hoping to get the jail time reduced a little bit. Or maybe she was hoping to hold on to more of the money and real estate they’d accumulated.
No one got the chance to testify. On the morning of the hearing, Banerjee hung himself in his cell.
Because the trial was never completed, the plea deal never went into effect. And because the guilty man was dead, there was no one left to charge with any crime. Chippendales and all the money and property associated with it went to Banerjee’s wife Irene.
Is being a Chippendale’s dancer honorable work?
Is hiring and training a Chippendale’s dancer honorable? Imagine you were one of the original choreographers cruising California beaches in search of beefcake and dance talent. You bring the guys in, choreograph their routine, and send them up on stage.
Leaving aside the legal issues and using only the perennial duties, what ethical case could be made in favor of Banerjee getting a hit man to eliminate the people who were copying his show?
Source: Photo courtesy of Robert Fairchild, http://www.flickr.com/photos/coffeego/3545289824.
On a real estate discussion board,“Ethical dilemma with submitting two offers at once? (contingency, clause, agent),” City-Data, accessed May 11, 2011, http://www.city-data.com/forum/real-estate/710433-ethical-dilemma-submitting-two-offers-once.html. someone with the sign-in name BriGuy23 asks, “Does anyone on here find any issue with submitting two offers to buy two different apartments at the same time? My friend thinks that it’s unfair due to the fact that one of the offers is definitely going to not go through which means they’re tying up the seller’s time (and money in a way). From a seller’s standpoint I think I would be annoyed but I really don’t see anything wrong with it from a buyer’s perspective. Thoughts?”
A response comes from middle-aged mom: “Sellers can negotiate multiple offers so there is no reason why a buyer could not make multiple offers on different places. Assuming you are represented by a buyer’s agent, I would use the same agent to make both offers. Make certain that your contract gives you an out in the unlikely event both are accepted.”
You need a date for Saturday night.
Photo courtesy of Natalia Rivera, http://www.flickr.com/photos/96952704@N00/317531326/.
Dov Charney is an American immigrant success story, but he’s not exactly a “Give me your tired, your poor” kind of immigrant. He’s a Canadian who came to America to attend an expensive private university.
He ended up founding American Apparel (AA), a clothing manufacturer producing trendy t-shirts and basics selling mainly to a young, edgy crowd.
Based in Los Angeles, their factory is among the biggest clothes-making operations in the nation. It employs almost five thousand workers. Those workers are well known for a number of reasons:
Workers at Charney’s America Apparel are the highest-paid mass-production sewers in the world.
In terms of duties—either the perennial duties or Kant’s categorical imperative—which is more recommendable: keeping the AA plant where and how it is, or moving it to Mexico and cutting the workers’ wages in half? Why is the decision you’ve made the better of the two?
A few factors to consider:
Kant’s categorical imperative requires that others be treated as ends and never as means.
Eighteen hundred of AA’s five thousand workers were using false papers and Social Security numbers to get their job. Charney knew all about that but chose to overlook it.
The basic and natural rights of mainstream rights theory include the following:
Source: Photo courtesy of Marco Gomes, http://www.flickr.com/photos/marcogomes/1346283989.
The following is from an online discussion:“My cd-burner wont let me copy the cd..why...,” Hardforum, accessed May 11, 2011, http://www.hardforum.com/archive/index.php/t-711331.html.
|overstand:||I’ve been having problems with copying cds and trying to burn them…when the copy process gets to 4% the used read buffer will go down to zero and continue fluctuating…will someone let me know the procedures on fixing this.|
|retardedchicken:||May I ask what CDs are you copying? Usually big companies put copy protection on their CDs so people dont ILLEGALLY copy their CDs.|
|-=iNsAnE=-:||why do people post worthless crap like this? its none of your business what cd’s he’s copying…dont accuse him of making illegal copy’s of cd’s…maybe try posting somethign useful next time|
|Flipside:||It’s not worthless crap mongloid.…Copyright protection does prevent the copying of some disks especially in main-stream programs such as Nero. Try using Clone CD—you may have better luck with a pure duplication program (No fuss).|
It sounds like Clone CD is specifically made to help pirates get around the copyright protections manufacturers put on their discs.
Which of the two cases is stronger? Why?
Retardedchicken implies that overstand is a thief and -=iNsAnE=- calls retardedchicken’s post “worthless crap.” Flipside calls -=iNsAnE=- a “mongloid.”
Source: Photo courtesy of jaqian, http://www.flickr.com/photos/jaqian/478574894/.
The headline from a local Oakland newspaper reported that a gun shop is closing due to unfair taxes.Alexandra J. Wall, “Jewish Gunshop Owner Closing Store; Cites Unfair Taxes,” Jweekly, July 21, 2000, accessed May 11, 2011, http://www.jweekly.com/article/full/13657/jewish-gunshop-owner-closing-store-cites-unfair-taxes. The gun shop’s name was Siegle’s Guns. Closing was inevitable, according to owner Mara Siegle, after Oakland residents passed Measure D, which levied a huge tax on gun dealers. They had to pay $24 for every $1,000 earned, in comparison to the $1.20 per $1,000 that all the other retailers in Oakland fork over. “No one can stay in business paying that kind of tax,” Siegle said while preparing her going-out-of-business sale. “And that’s exactly what Oakland wanted.”
No one disputes the point.
The disputes are about whether Oakland should want that and whether it’s fair for the city to use taxes as a weapon.
Amid the winners and losers, Mara Siegle certainly got the rottenest part of the deal. She has two sons, fifteen and seventeen, and she doesn’t know what she’ll do for income. “I need a job,” she said.
A hand-lettered sign posted in the store’s backroom for the benefit of Siegle’s five full-time employees displayed the phone number of the unemployment office. The sign said, “You paid for it, use it.”
Unemployment benefits are the result of unemployment insurance, which is not optional. Workers are forced to pay a bit out of each paycheck to the federal government, and if they lose their job, they get a biweekly check partially covering lost wages.