More Leverage and Limitation of Law

Lesson 1: Topic 3 of 19

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The Americans with Disabilities Act protects disabled workers and consumers. Signed into law in 1990, it was modeled after the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The ADA prohibits prejudice on the basis of physical or mental impairment (which might be current or previous, real or perceived).

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Stark Law (actually three separate provisions of different pieces of legislation) and the Federal Anti-Kickback Statute are intended to eliminate fraud in the healthcare, pharmaceutical, and medical device sectors by criminalizing referrals that financially benefit the referring party or his/her immediate family. These were enacted in the 1970s-1980s.

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The Sarbanes-Oxley Act (sometimes referred to as the Corporate Responsibility Act) dates to 2002. It is another anti-corruption bill, drafted in response to major corporate financial scandals at the turn of the century that defrauded investors of millions of dollars. Thanks to this piece of legislation, businesses must comply with strict financial recordkeeping requirements, and corporate officers who knowingly certify false financial statements can go to jail. 

These are just a few examples of legal attempts to curtail unethical behaviors and abuses of power. And such laws have helped, to a degree, but have not been without headaches of their own – the expense, effort, and documentation needed to prove compliance to the various oversight agencies, and worse, the seemingly endless ways unethical people find to skirt these laws. That latter point in particular illustrates why law alone is not and can never be the arbiter of right and wrong.