BIOETHICS FORUMS DECISION NOTEBOOKRestaurant Owner
"I tell every new employee, read this sign every day before work. The other day my best waiter refuses to serve a pregnant woman alcohol, says it's dangerous to the fetus. Today, the woman threatens a law suit, unless I fire the waiter. This time I don't know who's right. Or whose rights I'm responsible for: Customer? Employee? Fetus?"
Why is he/she a stakeholder?
She is a stakeholder because she might lose a customer, a staff person, or future business.
What values does he/she hold?
The restaurant owner does not reveal much about her values in this interview, so we have to infer her values based on who she is and what she does.
Beneficence is doing good for others. There are several different kinds of beneficence. Individual beneficence is doing good deeds for individuals--someone you know or a stranger. Kinship beneficence is doing good deeds for relatives-- members of the immediate family, the extended family, or social organizations like tribes, clans, or races. Social beneficence is doing good deeds for society as a whole.
The restaurant owner shows beneficence because she wants to provide a service to the customer and a job to the waiter.
Many people feel that it is important to use money efficiently, and make decisions with that in mind. To some, economic efficiency means spending as little money as possible on a problem; others point out that larger initial expenditures may be more efficient by reducing later or hidden costs. Some people consider economic efficiency to be an absolute value; for them it is the main consideration in making a decision. Others consider economic efficiency a relative value; they try to minimize costs but do not consider saving money to be the most important part of a decision.
As a business owner, the restaurant owner must value economic efficiency to some degree. After all, she wants to make a profit.
What are his/her immediate objectives?
Her immediate objectives are to keep her customer happy and avoid bad publicity while obeying any laws and protecting her restaurant from the threat of a lawsuit. She also wants to develop a clear policy regarding serving alcohol to pregnant women that her staff can follow in the future.
What information is relevant?
The restaurant owner will want to know about laws and legal precedents that deal with serving alcohol.
Tavern Sued in Drunk Driving Death
The family of a man killed when he drove his car into an irrigation canal last August has filed suit against a local tavern where he had been drinking shortly before the accident. According to court papers, the family seeks $5 million in damages from Dalto's Jazz 'n Spirits, charging that the bartender shouldn't have served the obviously intoxicated victim.
The man, who had a history of drunk-driving arrests and was driving without a license, had visited several bars the afternoon before his death, according to police. He drank three beers at Dalto's around 6 p.m., according to the bartender, who defended his actions, insisting, "He looked fine to me. Anyway, people get real mean when you cut them off." The victim left Dalto's around 7 p.m. and was never seen alive again. Police divers found the man's car in 10 feet of water. He had apparently driven off the road.
This article notes that businesses that serve alcohol may be held legally responsible for the actions of their customers who become intoxicated. Could the legal precedent be extended to hold the restaurant responsible if they serve alcohol to the pregnant woman and her child is later born with fetal alcohol syndrome?