Danville Airlines the Ethical and Legal Consequences Case Study

Excerpt from Case Study :

Danville Airlines

The ethical and legal consequences of testing employees without their knowledge or consent puts Danville Airlines into a defensive position, having to both explain to David Reiger why they are not letting him fly, and potentially to his attorneys how the testing took place at all. The issue of genetics testing raises ethical and legal conflicts, creating a paradox for companies who practice this type of screening (Howard, Richardson, Thorpe, 2009). Danville Airlines has been negligent in their process of medical screening, allowing samples taken from Reiger to be sent to a genetics screening lab (Darden, 2004). Especially detrimental to Reiger is the emotional trauma and pain of being diagnosed with Huntington's disease, the same disease which took his father's life as well (Darden, 2004). Danville is now in the paradoxical situation of having told people outside the company of Reiger's condition, also informing Reiger he will no longer be allowed to fly for the airline, in addition to still not taking steps to fix the several lack of compliance and oversight in its Human Resources Department (Darden, 2004). Even if the screening was technically legal and the attorneys for Danville successfully argue that the genetic testing results are binding, it still doesn't excuse the company from violating Reiger's rights as defined by the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act (Avitabile, Jappelli, Padula, 2011). It also doesn't excuse the fact that this data, so detrimental to his ability to earn a living, is now out in public with those outside the company, as the case suggests (Darden, 2004). By allowing this to happen, Danville is now in violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. The intent of this paper is to analyze the case and provide a series of recommendations on how Danville can mitigate the losses from their negligence.

Analysis of Case

Genetic screening has many benefits both for the employee and for employers. The greatest benefits are providing early warning to employees of potentially serious medical conditions long before they occur, in addition to providing insight into how to treat them before they manifest themselves (Howard, Richardson, Thorpe, 2009). There is also the benefit of treating the emerging symptoms much more intelligently and with greater precision than if a physician misreads them for example. There is also the added benefit of preparing a patient for a potentially life-threatening illness, allowing them time to prepare emotionally for the fight against the disease (Howard, Richardson, Thorpe, 2009). The downside of genetic testing is exemplified in this case. Companies don't have processes in place for managing those employees diagnosed with serious diseases; they often react as Danville has done, telling the employee that basically their work life is over (Darden, 2004). Danville, like many companies, have no processes in place for managing employees with these types of diseases, and rather than act in the best interests of the employee, they seek to limit their liability as much as possible (Novit, 1981). Danville also shows how to not handle a situation of genetic screening done without employee's consent, but first advising them of their job being taken away due to safety concerns, sharing the results with those outside the company, and having no alternative plan in place for the employee (Avitabile, Jappelli, Padula, 2011).

When analyzing this case in the context of the 1974 Privacy Act, the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act, and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, Danville fails to comply with each (Darden, 2004). First, Danville has willfully discriminated against Reiger by pulling him away from his job as pilot purely based on the potential probability of Huntington's disease gene (Darden, 2004). This is willful discrimination. Second, Danville is in violation of the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act due to their immediately removing Reiger form his role as pilot. Third, by discussing these results outside the company and without his consent, Danville is in violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. Reiger…

Sources Used in Document:


Avitabile, C., Jappelli, T., & Padula, M. (2011). Cognitive abilities, healthcare and screening tests. Journal of Population Ageing, 4(4), 251-269.

Darden Business Publishing. (2004). DANVILLE AIRLINES. University of Virginia. Retrieved on August 24, 2012 from

Howard, DH, Richardson, L.C., & Thorpe, K.E. (2009). Cancer screening and age in the United States and Europe. Health Affairs, 28(6), 1838-47.

Hunter, D. (2005). Diversity and sensitivity issues in management: The case of the genetic screening questionnaire. The Business Review, Cambridge, 4(2), 249-252.

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