Business Law: Film Critique of Movie Erin Brockovich - Paper Sample

Published: 2022-12-21
Business Law: Film Critique of Movie Erin Brockovich - Paper Sample
Type of paper:  Movie review
Categories:  Movie Pollution Business ethics Business law Ethical dilemma
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 852 words
8 min read

Business practices are supposed to be mindful of the environment that they operate. There have been numerous cases of organizations that have impacted negatively on the environment such as oil spillage, fracking, noise, and air pollution. Films have depicted such business practices and the ethical issues involved. "Erin Brockovich" is an example of a film that explores legal and ethical issues involved in business operations. It is based on a true story about a woman who exposed the bad business practices of Pacific Gas & Electric. PG&E is a company operating in the Hinkley community where the area residents and workers experience health problems due to water pollution. The film "Erin Brockovich" epitomizes the legal and ethical issues involved in business practices where there is pollution, deception, and bribery as the main maladies tackled.

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"Erin Brockovich" follows the story of a single mother with the same name as the title as she, out of coincidence, finds work in a law firm. As Erin works as a clerk at the Ed Masry's law firm, she stumbles upon some medical records in some real estate files. She persuades her firm to allow her to investigate. The medical records show people in the community with health problems such as gastrointestinal cancer, headaches, and miscarriages. Ms. Brockovich is a single mother with no law degree, but she is able to uncover details through discussions with families in the Hinkley community. She discovers there is pollution in the water system with hexavalent chromium used by the PG&E plant.

The film portrays the negative side of corporate practices where PG&E is exemplified for the ethical and legal issues in business. The company is knowingly at fault for the health problems in the community. The first ethical issue shown in the film is when PG&E attempt to stop an investigation into their company. PG&E sends a representative to prevent damages that might result from the investigations by the law firm. They first ask the law firm to stop damaging the reputation of the company. The representative then offers $250,000 to a family whose daughter has cancer linked to the pollution by PG&E. The money is supposed to be used as a settlement to keep quiet, but not as an acknowledgment of wrongdoing. It is a form of bribery which is unethical in business operations. Furthermore, Erin receives a threatening call that warns her of her safety and that of her children if she does not stop her investigation. Intimidation is also bad in business practices and it is also unlawful.

Pollution is a bad business practice since organizations should care about the environment. Even after pollution, businesses should find ways to stop, limit, or compensate for the damages caused. The film depicts PG&E as one with poor business practices as it knowingly uses Chromium 6 and then releases it to the water for human consumption. They know the harmful properties of the chemical not only to their employees but to the public as well. An employee died from a kidney tumor at age 41 from breathing harmful chemicals at the PG&E plant. They should have had protective clothing for their workers, and introduced methods that would limit the chemicals reaching the public.

Deception is yet another bad business practice depicted in this film. PG&E deceived the town on the chemicals that they used at the firm. At the beginning of the film, the company's representatives held a meeting with the Hinkley community to tell them of the benefits and safety of Chromium 3 that they use at the firm. Later on, the film reveals that the company was using the harmful Chromium 6 despite their assurances of the safety conditions. at the plant. There were documents dating back to 1966 that PG&E's management tried to destroy to hide their use of harmful chemicals.

A turning point in the film comes when an employee at the plant befriends Erin and provides her with documents on the chemical use at PG&E. The documents showed the deception of the company on the safety of their water. PG&E claimed to be using Chromium 3 while in fact, they were using Chromium 6 which is harmful to humans. Their conscious complete deception led to a direct-action lawsuit where they had to compensate the Hinkley community for damages.

The ethical issues in business practice shown in the film are pollution, bribery, and intimidation. The portrayal of the company is one that does anything to remain competitive. They use products that harm the environment without any safety measures in place. They then involve themselves in cover-up attempts as a solution. The film also shows an employee suffering from severe nose bleeds after cleaning the tanks at PG&E. It is an indication of poor business ethics as it harms both the employees' health as well as that of their surroundings. The film is helpful to both companies and community members on how to handle ethical issues in business practice.


Roberts, J., & Finney, A. (2000). Erin Brockovich. Universal Pictures.

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