What Are Some Documented Examples of Unethical Business Practices?

Companies accused of unethical business practices include Mattel, Wal-Mart, Halliburton, Enron and Nestle. Mattel has been criticized for allowing hazardous materials such as lead paint to be used in its toys. The issue began after Mattel attempted to cut costs by outsourcing production to China. Mattel’s compromise on quality led to the company having to recall the hazardous toys.

Wal-Mart has faced monopoly charges, along with allegations of forced, unpaid overtime for employees. The company has been accused of forcing its suppliers to rely on its business and of predatory pricing that aims to hurt its competitors. Its employees have sued the company in the past, alleging that they were denied health insurance.

Halliburton has faced a number of lawsuits for allegedly endangering its employees and has been accused of overcharging the U.S. government for materials used during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

The energy company Enron was found to have misled investors with regard to the company’s earnings. Executives embezzled investment funds and lied about earnings. When Enron went bankrupt, investors lost a total of $70 billion, and the company collapsed. Only a small amount of the lost money was ever returned.

In the 1970s, Nestle was accused of getting third world mothers to use infant formula rather than breastfeeding. The formula was more expensive and less healthy than breast milk. Nestle gave out samples and hired women in nurses’ uniforms to sell the formula to mothers. However, some mothers could not access clean water or diluted the formula to make it last longer, and their babies died from malnutrition.