Ethical Errors in Erin Brokovich

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Erin Brokovich, based on a true story, is a story about an intriguing single mother named Erin whose actions eventually lead to the biggest lawsuit against any corporation in history. Struggling, the ball starts rolling for Erin when she gets into a car accident. Her lawyer thinks she will win in a court case from her accident, but they lose. In compensation for the loss, Erin is given a job at the law firm and begins to dig into a case against Pacific Gas and Electric when she finds out they are trying to buy a resident of Hinkley, California’s home to cover up their depositing of a danger chemical. After her research, she finds that many people in Hinkley have all had medical issues related to this and that there is acknowledgement from Pacific Gas and Electric themselves that they have been depositing the dangerous chemical. She gets all of the residents to go along with the lawsuit and they win a payment of $333 million, the largest of all time. Erin herself ends up receiving $2 million in a bonus for her part in the investigation and court case.
While the major ethical error of dumping the chemical is obvious, there are many ethical errors made by Pacific Gas and Electric that make this case compelling an a lesson on how not to act in business. On the flip side, even what Erin was doing could be considered unethical. She is not a lawyer, and should not have been handling a case like this. Obviously the law firm knew this but carried on anyways. It is even worse when she is fired but then hired back because of the papers that she has regarding the contamination by PG&E. This is bribery and a form of corruption which is easily unethical under any definition. Getting the job in the first case, by making the lawyer feel bad for ...

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... the environment or the safety of the residents.
All issues considered the combination of lying and deceiving the people, bribing with money, threats, and harming the environment reveal a business with very unethical practices. However, in this film, even Erin and the law firm contribute with ethical errors on their own part with illegal actions, bribery, and forced guilt. While they eventually win the case, and PG&E is forced to change their use of hexavalent chromium, it comes at a large cost to them and victory for the residents. It shows the costs of unethical behavior, and brings these behaviors to light so viewers can think about them more. Not only would it have been cheaper to make ethical decisions in the long run, the pain that was caused by ethical errors by PG&E come to light and stress the importance of acting ethically on business and personal levels.

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