In today’s society, ethics in the workplace prove to be very helpful in decision making along with the vast decision making structure. The problems which arise may be difficult for an individual to decipher whether or not it interferes with an organization’s code of ethics. Sometimes the code of ethics is quite unclear. However, knowing the difference between right and wrong would be a decision for the individual to decide.
In recent news, a Kentucky clerk by the name of Kim Davis, is being highlighted for unethical behavior, violating ethics in the workplace as well as the law. Throughout the reading, there will be more clarifications to show how, why and what ethics and ethical behaviors are unacceptable at her place of employment. Kim Davis’s individual religious beliefs as well as the organization’s ethics may conflict, there’s a need for an equal medium to be met. Although there is a fine line between individual religious beliefs and organizational ethics, it is one that shouldn’t be crossed. Even though there are many situations where ethics are being violated or challenged in the workplace, everyone should be held accountable for their actions.
Upon Kim Davis working in a local government office, she violated the law as well as her duties as an elected official. Kim Davis took an oath of office and specifically dishonored certain sections which states; ‘I do solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the Commonwealth, and be faithful and true to the Commonwealth of Kentucky so long as I continue a citizen thereof, and that I will faithfully execute, to the best of my ability,’..According to the law; and I do further solemnly swear that since the adoption of the present Constitution,” so help me God (Commision, 2015).’
Since religion is a the reason why Kim Davis denied the same-sex couples their marriage license, there is now another focus on the hypocrisy regarding the violation of her duties as a county clerk. Kim Davis’s individual religious beliefs conflict with her ethical behaviors as well as the code of ethics dealing with her job. This is because she has taken an oath under God to abide by the present Constitution and failing to comply while managing her public duties. Instead she let her beliefs impede her better judgements to follow her civil duties.
In the following research, the reader will be able to gain valuable information of how one’s individual’s beliefs can jeopardize one’s employment, violate the law, dishonor an oath, show unethical behavior and still hold their position of an elected official. The reader should also be able to answer the following questions:
Was Kim Davis’s unethical behavior acceptable?
Was it appropriate for Kim Davis to bring her religious beliefs to her job?
Should Kim Davis’s individual religious beliefs triumph code of ethics and the law?
Are there any consequences for Kim Davis breaking the code of ethics as well as the law if her religious beliefs go against them?
In most recent news, in Rowan County, Kentucky, a county clerk by the name of Kim Davis has been in the spotlight. The 49 year old democrat has refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. According to Kim, the reason for her actions, is due to her individual religious beliefs, that of an Apostolic Christian. Kim Davis, who was elected to become the Chief Deputy Clerk, began her duties in January of this year. This type of role wasn’t new to Kim because her mother had been the county clerk for over 37 years. A factor in workplace ethics and behavior is integrity, being honest as well as doing the right thing at all times. According to the (Commision, 2015), her duties consist of issuing and registering, recording and keeping various legal records, registering and purging voter rolls, conducting election duties, and conducting tax duties. According to the Kentucky Legislature, no marriage shall be solemnized without a license therefor. Each license must be issued by the clerk of the county, which in Rowan County, Kim Davis resides at the time.
Every clerk and deputy has to take Section 228 as well as Section 30A.020 in the presence of a Circuit Court before fulfilling their civil duties. An oath is an agreement entered into between one person and another whereby the one taking the oath, appeals to God to witness and sanction what one has said or committed oneself to (Hagopian, 2014).
One shall stand with their right hand lifted up towards heaven, in token to one’s solemn appeal to the Supreme God, and also token that if one should swerve from the truth he would draw down vengeance of heaven upon one’s head, and shall introduce the intended oath with these words (Section 228):’I____ do solemnly swear, as the case that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of this Commonwealth, and be faithful and true to the Commonwealth of Kentucky so as long as I continue a citizen thereof, and that I will faithfully execute, to the best of my ability the office of ______ according to law; and do further solemnly swear that since the adoption of the present Constitution, I, being a citizen of this State, have not fought a duel with deadly weapons within this State nor out of it, nor have I sent or accepted a challenge to fight a duel with deadly weapons, nor have I acted as a second in carrying a challenge, nor aided or assisted any person thus offending, so help me God. (Commision, 2015).’
The next section to the oath that the officers must take will gain them one step closer to entering their duties of their respective offices. Section 30A.020 states: ‘I, ______ do swear that I will well and truly discharge the duties of the office of _________ County Circuit Court clerk, according to the best of my skill and judgement, making the due entries and records of all orders, judgments, decrees, opinions and proceedings of the court, and carefully filing and preserving in my office all books and papers which come to my possession by virtue of my office; and that I will not knowingly or willingly commit any malfeasance of office, and will faithfully execute the duties of my office without favor, affection or partiality, so help me God (Commision, 2015).’
‘Even Christian people violate their oaths. By doing so, they demonstrate culpable ignorance of, indifference to, or callousness for their Biblical responsibility to honor their word in general and their oaths and vows in particular (Hagopian, 2014)’. The role for Federal employees would be to establish Justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty (Group, 2015). By taking this oath, Kim Davis knows that there are consequences if she doesn’t meet its expectations.
Upon taking office one has to become familiar with the code of ethics that states: The proper operation of democratic government requires that a public official be independent and impartial; that government policy and decisions made through the established processes of government; that a public official not use public office to obtain private benefits; that a public official avoid action which creates the appearance of using public office to obtain a benefit; and the public have confidence in the integrity of its government and public officials (Commision, 2015).By taking on this role and commitment, Kim Davis is accepting the responsibilities to uphold every part of the State and Federal law. Failure to do so will be a violation of her promise to fulfill her duties as the county clerk.
In June of this year, the U.S. Supreme Court passed the law for same-sex marriages. The ruling of Obergefell v. Hodges has now legalized all 50 states to marry same-sex couples. The state of Kentucky was one of 13 states that was last to revise their statues for same-sex marriages. Right after the Supreme Court ruling, two same-sex couples went to the Rowan County Courthouse to apply and receive their marriage license. After entering the County Office, the two couples were denied their marriage license by Kim Davis. This rejection now turned into a media frenzy. Davis has taken the law in her own hands. Davis has denied these couples their license due to her own individual religious beliefs. Davis doesn’t want her name affixed to any of the same-sex marriage license, which is archived in Kentucky’s history books (Martinez, 2015). Kim’s behavior was unethical to illegally deny a same-sex couple their marriage license, which is now a Federal law. She made the decision to take another person’s right due to her religious beliefs. Kim not only displayed unethical behavior, she violated the oath of office, code of ethics, state and federal law.
In Davis’s oath, she confirmed that she would uphold her duties as a public official under the state and Constitution ‘So help me God.’ Among Davis going against the oath of office, the code of ethics were violated specifically by not fulfilling: ‘that government policy and decisions made through the established processes of government; the public have confidence in the integrity of its government and public officials (Commision, 2015).’
Since refusing to issue same-sex marriage license, Davis was declared in contempt of court along with six of her deputies. The U.S. Supreme Court Judge, David Bunning informed Davis, until she complied with the law, she would remain in jail. Soon after, five of the deputies agreed to issue the same-sex license. The sixth deputy, which was Davis’s son, didn’t say whether or not he would issue the same-sex marriage license. Davis spent five nights in jail and was released on the sixth day. She was released and ordered not to interfere directly or indirectly with her deputies issuing marriage licenses. Davis is adamant about not issuing license to same-sex couples and has yet to do so.
The marriage license that are continuously being issued don’t have her signature on it, which by law requires the Count Clerk to sign. Now, the question is if the licenses are valid since her signature isn’t on them? The Rowan County attorney, ruled in this particular circumstance, that the license issued are still valid without Davis’s signature (Mosendz, 2015). Davis, in an interview with a local news station, makes a statement about her stance on the issue. ‘I never imagined a day like this would come, where I would be asked to violate a central teaching of Scripture and of Jesus Himself regarding marriage. To issue a marriage license, which conflicts with God’s definition of marriage, with my name affixed to the certificate, would violate my conscience (Lex18, 2015).’ She goes on to say, that the decision she made was due to obedience and a matter between Heaven and Hell. Later in her statement she makes her point known what she would like to do. ‘I was elected by the people to serve as the County Clerk. I intend to continue to serve the people of Rowan County, but I cannot violate my conscience (Lex18, 2015).’ This clearly states that she won’t put her signature on any same-sex marriage license as long as she’s in her position of County Clerk.
Through Kim Davis’s actions, she was definitely wrong to bring her individual religious beliefs to her job. One of Kim Davis’s major roles, is to serve all of the county residents in accordance with the state laws as well as the government. Davis has a right to have an opinion about the ruling as long as it doesn’t interfere with her job. She cannot force her religion onto anyone else and think that her beliefs can change the Supreme Court ruling. There have been other Supreme Court rulings, such as Brown v Board of Education, in a time when segregation was prevalent, and the rulings weren’t favorable, but this is the law. One doesn’t have to like it, but one must abide by it.
With all of this disruption, Davis still holds a position as the County Clerk. One questions why can’t she be fired? The reason is because Davis is an elected official. According to (Mosendz, 2015), in order for Kim Davis to be removed from her position, the state legislature would have to impeach her or she would have to resign.