Unethical And Morally Ambiguous Choices Made By Erin Brockovich

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Erin Brockovich is a movie based on a true story that involves a woman named Erin. She is single mother, has three kids and is desperate for an income. One day, she fortunately got a job at Ed Masry’s law firm. As she spends time filing papers, she becomes interested in one specific case and her boss allows her to investigate further, even though she is not a lawyer.

The whole film was about uncovering unethical practices and showing the effects these practices made on the community of Hinkley. At end of the movie, Erin could finally bring justice to the families affected by the water contamination due to PG&E unethical practices, however, she made some unethical and illegal actions too.

Despite the victory, is it acceptable to act unethically in order to arrive at an ethical conclusion, does the end does justify the means? In this case, yes, the end justified the means. The reason why I believe that is because Erin had a good intention on the case, she wanted to help people that were victims of PG&E water poisoning. She walked door by door meeting people from the Hinkley community to investigate the case and she showed family how trustful she was.

Some unethical mistakes she made were:

  • The first ethical issue that I could identify happened in the first portion of the movie. Erin threatened and forced Ed Masry to give her a job. It is an unethical practice since you need to follow the hiring process. From my vision, this action is unethical and considered extortion. Extortion is a practice of getting something through forced actions or threats. Later in the movie, she was fired and then fired back because of important papers that she had regards the contamination. She bribed her boss in order to get the job again and bribery is form of corruption.
  • Another ethical issue is the fact that she is not a lawyer and she could not investigate a case without proper legal experience, in this case, a without a degree. When Erin asks if she could investigate the case further and Mr. Masry tells her to go ahead. Throughout the movie Erin was practicing law illegally and Mr. Masry was aware of that.
  • The last ethical issue I could identify was that fact that she broke into the Lahotan regional water board office in order to get documents and reports that proved that Pacific Gas and Electric(PG&E) knew that water was contaminated by hexavalent chromium. She convinced the guys who worked there, Scott, to look for specific documents not following the protocol which water board office had. This is considered an illegal action from my point of view and its unethical.
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