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Explain how you understand the following terms: “unprofessional,” “immoral,” “lack of fitness” to teach. One can understand unprofessional to mean lack of respect for the job and not following rules, procedures, and protocol. When someone shows unprofessionalism, it can make the business or profession that the person is in look bad. Unprofessionalism not only is a reflection of yourself but that of your employer as well. When someone is unprofessional it can put out a bad reputation of the employer to clients, customers, and other business people.

Pettit’s outside views were not brought into the classroom and not reflected in her job, therefore there was not any unprofessionalism on the job occurring.

Immoral can be seen as the lack of morals. Immoral acts are not necessarily illegal but frowned upon or seen as unrighteousness in the eyes of society. Pettit’s views of a “nonconventional sexual lifestyle” may be looked upon as immoral to many in society. When the Pettit’s joined the Swingers club, that action may have been looked upon as an immoral act.

The conventional view of society is a monogamous marriage between two people, not swapping partners or allowing others to “come into the bedroom” with you and your spouse.

“Lack of fitness” to teach can be defined as incompetence to instruct students in a classroom. According to Shaw (2010) Justice Tobringer argued that no evidence has established that Pettit was not fit to teach because of her unconventional ways. Her track record wasn’t even considered.

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“They couldn’t point to any past misconduct with students, nor did they suggest any reason to anticipate future problems.” (Shaw, 2010, pg. 372-373) Where is the “lack of fitness” to teach? In fact, according to Shaw (2010) “teaching students with intellectual disabilities requires skill, patience, and devotion” which Pettit showed through her thirteen plus years of being an “unsung hero of our society.” (Shaw, 2010, pg. 372) Explain whether the Board of Education was justified in firing Pettit.

The Board of Education was NOT justified in firing Pettit. Her views of “nonconventional sexual lifestyles,” including “wife swapping” was something they did privately. In fact, “had there not been clandestine surveillance of the party, the whole issue would never have arisen,” according to Justice Tobringer. (Shaw, 2010, pg. 373) According to Shaw (2010) even when the Pettit’s went on television to discuss their views, they wore disguises. If it had not been for a fellow colleague of Pettit discussing openly what was on television with others, there is a chance that no one would have ever known about the television program. “The State Board of Education found no reason to complain about her services as a teacher, and it conceded that she was unlikely to repeat her sexual misconduct.” (Shaw, 2010, pg. 372)

One can assume that The Board of Education will fire an employee if their private views are disclosed not necessarily being reflected within their jobs. It’s stressed throughout the case that Pettit was never involved in any wrong doing, misconduct, or engaging with children inappropriately. Pettit’s background and track record should have been considered in the decision when she was fired and her license was revoked. Her behavior outside the classroom in her private life was never revealed for the thirteen plus years that she was teaching. Her behavior was even with other consenting adults in the privacy of a friend’s home. Pettit’s career should have never been jeopardized for this event. Explain whether the court’s verdict was consistent with its earlier handling of the case with the homosexual teacher.

The court’s verdict wasn’t consistent with its earlier handling of the case with homosexual teacher. Even though Pettit was engaged in, what was considered then, illegal activity, the Board found that there was no evidence that she was to repeat this behavior. Her behavior “at home” never reflected in her work as a teacher. In fact, Pettit’s “competence was never questioned, and the evaluations of her school principal were always positive” according to Shaw (2010). The Board of Education did state, “On the ground that by engaging in immoral and unprofessional conduct at the party, she had demonstrated that she was unfit to teach.” (Shaw, 2010, pg.372)

How many consenting adults engage in behavior that may not besuitable for their certain profession? Many professionals go out for drinks; some may even get intoxicated in the privacy of their own homes or in the privacy of a friend’s home. There are also many consenting adults, that aren’t married, that engage in sexual activity. Because people engage in these type of activities in the privacy of your own home or a friends home does not justify the boards of your profession to revoke your license or certification. Explain under what conditions employers have a legitimate interest in their employee’s off-the-job conduct.

There are many conditions where employers have a legitimate interest in their employee’s-off-the-job conduct. For example, when the off-the-job conduct of the employee is illegal, employers have a reason to investigate. In the case of Pettit, she was “charged with oral copulation, which at the time contravened the California Penal Code.” (Shaw, 2010, pg. 372) With the charge, Pettit’s employer had every right to investigate the case because of illegal activity.

In the case with the unspecified homosexual conduct there was nothing illegal to go on. “The Board of Education concluded that a teacher’s actions could not constitute “immoral or unprofessional conduct” or “moral turpitude” unless there was clear evidence of unfitness to teach.” (Shaw, 2010, pg. 372)


  1. Shaw, W.H. (2011). Business ethics: 2010 custom edition (7th ed.). Mason, OH: Cengage

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Unprofessional Conduct. (2016, Jun 06). Retrieved from

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