Naturally, there is also some overlap because some legal duties (such as the duty not to sell or serve spoiled food) would also be ethical duties irrespective of legal issues. Others, (such as specific refrigerator temperature requirements) would not necessarily also correspond to ethical duties if the purpose of the law (i.e. avoiding food spoilage) could be accomplished even at slightly higher temperatures. In theory, organizations have no ethical duty not to discriminate by race (etc.) unless those duties are defined by law. However, a very strong argument could be made that there is indeed an ethical duty to treat people equally even without any such laws specifically mandating it.
Legal and Ethical Duties of Hospitals
Hospitals have both extensive statutory and ethical duties that go far beyond those of less essential or less important services such as grocery stores and restaurants (Judson & Hicks, 2003). Hospitals (and all healthcare facilities and services) also have separate ethical duties that are defined by the various professional medical organizations and governing bodies irrespective of the requirements of statutory and case law. As is the case with other types of organizations, many types of ethical duties arise in connection with legal compliance anytime non-compliance would be easy to conceal because they depend on good-faith compliance.
Perhaps the most important difference between essential and non-essential service providers is that non-essential service providers may choose what services they wish to provide whereas essential service providers must provide certain types of services, such as emergency medical services to all patients irrespective of their ability to pay, in the case of hospitals with emergency rooms (Halbert & Ingulli, 2008; Judson & Hicks, 2003).
Halbert, T. And Ingulli, E. (2008). Law & Ethics in the Business Environment. Cincinnati:
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Judson, K, and Hicks, S. (2003). Law & Ethics for Medical Careers. New York:
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