Discuss if The employers met their obligations to their employees in the context of contemporary law, business practice and business ethics
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The legal and ethical obligations that factory owners faced at that time were hugely different from the requirements faced by business owners today. Measured against the expectations of that time, they did tragically fail to provide safe working conditions in the sense of adequate access to means of exit in case of emergency. However, ethical considerations were not part of the mix of relations between employers and employees at that time.
It was illegal to lock the doors from the outside, as the factory owners did, but they were acquitted of this charge, as it wasn't proven that they were aware that the doors were locked. One of them was arrested for the same offense a couple of years later. I think it is pretty clear that they weren't meeting their moral obligations either, but in this way they were pretty typical of many business owners of the day, which is exactly why the fire was so important- it stimulated a movement to reform labor conditions in NYC sweatshops and factories.
I do not think that you can say that they met their obligations, even in the context of the time. They surely did not fail as badly as we would think they had today, but they did still fail. As proof of this, we can point out that the owners lost a civil lawsuit in which they had to pay damages to the families of the deceased. This shows that they were at least found liable for the deaths, which indicates that they had not lived up to all of their obligations.
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