Employment Issue du Jour
Kevin Salwen on Ethics
Once again the world of sports brings us one of the more interesting employment matters of our time: the role of an employer in keeping an employee healthy.
Oh sure, this seems like an easy one -- we're 100 years out from Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, right? But this isn't operating heavy machinery, and clearly is enough of a gray area to bring two of the most storied franchises in the NBA -- the New York Knicks and the Chicago Bulls -- to opposite conclusions.
The story centers around Eddy Curry, by all assessment a mighty fine basketball player. But Curry missed 13 games for the Bulls last season with an irregular heartbeat and may be predisposed to a heart condition that has killed other players. The Bulls, whose general manager John Paxson said he would never endanger the life of a player, demanded that Curry take a DNA test to assure his health. Curry refused.
So the Bulls traded him to New York, where apparently the standard is different. 'Do you gamble on this type of talent in big people?' asked Isiah Thomas, the Knicks' president. 'Without question.' He contends that tests Curry has agreed to take are just as reliable as the DNA test.
The core question, I think, goes to the Knicks' argument that they should trust Curry's judgment as to his own health and his own level of risk. Makes me wonder: Just what is the employer's role?