Assessment 1 Ethical Dilemmas Analysis
Ethical Dilemma 1
Sophie has just completed a sales training course with one of the firm’s most productive sales representatives, Emma.
At the end of the first week, Sophie and Emma sat in a motel room filling out their expense vouchers for the week. Sophie casually remarked to Emma that the training course stressed the importance of accurately filling out expense vouchers.
Emma replied, “I’m glad you brought that up, Sophie. The company expense vouchers don’t list the categories we need. I tried many times to explain to the accountants that there are more expenses than they have boxes for. The biggest complaint we, the salespeople, have is that there is no place to enter expenses for tipping waitresses, waiters, cab drivers, bell hops, airport baggage handlers, and the like. Even the government assumes tipping and taxes them as if they were getting an 18 percent tip. That’s how service people actually survive on the lousy pay they get from their bosses. I tell you, it is embarrassing not to tip.”
Emma continued. “I went to the accounting department, and every week for five months I told them they needed to change the forms. I showed them the approximate amount the average salesperson pays in tips per week. Some of them were shocked at the amount. But would they change it or at least talk to the supervisor? No! So I went directly to him, and do you know what he said to me?”
“No, what?” asked Sophie. “He told me that this is the way it has always been done, and it would stay that way. He also told me if I tried to go above him on this, I’d be looking for another job. I can’t chance that now, especially in this economy.” Now I do what my supervisor told me years ago. I paid my account each week. For me, I tip 20 percent, so I make sure I write down when I tip and add that to my overall expense report.”
“But that goes against company policy. Besides, how do you do it?” asked Sophie.
“It’s easy. Every cab driver will give you blank receipts for cab fares. I usually put the added expenses there. We all do it,” said Emma. “I don’t use Uber or Lyft even though it is cheaper on business trips because there is an electronic record of the fare. As long as everyone cooperates, the vice president of sales doesn’t question the expense vouchers. I imagine she even did it when she was a lowly salesperson.”
This was Sophie’s first real job out of school and Emma was her mentor. What should Sophie report on her expense report?
Ethical Dilemma 2
Megan Jones landed a great job with the “app” developing company Global App Creations (GAC). In her six months of training in Human Resources (HR) she faced challenges but enjoyed working with people and solving their problems.
One Monday, Megan’s boss, Debbie, placed a large personnel folder on her desk. “Megan, I want you to review these files and by Friday start the process of finding possible ethics violations. Some employees know this is coming, while others don’t have a clue. It’s your job to write them up for ethics violations and suggest those that should go to legal as well. I will add my opinion also. For now, I’ll make the primary decisions, but sooner or later you’ll be in charge of these tasks. If you have any questions, just stop by and we can talk.”
Megan found some violations were straightforward, such as those involving theft of office supplies, inappropriate remarks, and tardiness. GAC’s code was straightforward on such matters. Yet other events appeared confusing. One salesperson was getting an official reprimand for using a company car for personal activities. According to the file, the person visited a hospital 10 miles away every evening for the past month. Megan realized every GAC car was equipped with a GPS device. While she didn’t think it was illegal for companies to install tracking devices on items they owned, she heard having information about health or religion could become the basis of a lawsuit if the person’s employment was terminated. Another file Megan reviewed was that of an employee being fired for sharing confidential information with a competitor. The file contained reports on computer activity, cell phone usage, GPS tracking, and included audio and video of personal conversations, dinners, and hotel rooms. Next day, Megan went to Jeremy, a sales manager, who had worked for the company for several years, and asked him if he knew of employee tracking at the company.
Jeremy responded, “Well, I have heard rumours that managers want to keep track of employees and monitor whether they share confidential information with competitors. I’ve also heard they monitor where each employee goes through the GPS located in the company car.”
On Thursday Megan met with Debbie and expressed her concerns about the information GAC collects through the employee tracking activities. After she finished, Debbie responded. “Don’t be so naive, Megan. You know as well as I do what employees do outside of work could legally hurt the company. It’s also necessary to make sure employees aren’t sharing confidential information with rivals. This is a competitive industry.”
Ethical Dilemma 3
Jayla recently landed an internship with Acme Incorporated in the Payroll Department. She was excited because these internships usually turned into a full-time job after graduation. Jayla was hired by Deon, the head of the Payroll Department. He told her about their policies and stressed the need for maintaining strict confidentiality regarding employee salaries and pay scales. “Several years ago we had an intern who violated the confidentiality policy and was given a negative internship summary,” explained Deon.
Early in the internship, while studying sales data, Jayla began to notice abnormalities in one salesperson’s salary. Greg, one of the senior sales representatives, made three times as much as the next salesperson. Jayla assumed he must be a spectacular salesperson and worked efficiently. She often overheard Mia, the General Manager, and Deon praise Greg for his sales numbers. She also noticed the three of them would often go to lunch together.
One morning, Deon handed a stack of client folders to Jayla. He explained, “These are the clients for the salespeople for the week. They will come to you when they need more work, and they are only to take the files on top of the pile. You are in charge of making sure the salespeople don’t pick and choose the files. This is how we keep things fair among the sales force.”
Mary, one of the salespeople, came by to get files for the week. They made small talk as Mary looked into her files. She looked disappointed. “You didn’t get any good clients?” Jayla asked. “Nope, not a one,” replied Mary, “which is just my luck!” She threw down the files in exasperation. Jayla was concerned and asked, “What’s the matter?” “I’m sorry,” she replied, “It’s just that my sales have been slipping, and my pay checks are much smaller than they used to be which impacts my ability to cover my commitments.”
The next week, before the salespeople arrived to pick up files, Jayla had some documents for Deon to sign. She peeked in the office and saw Deon and Greg going through the stack of client files. Jayla watched as Greg rifled through the pile and picked out files. “Thanks, Deon. These are the top clients for the week,” Greg said. “No problem, Greg,” Deon responded, “Anything for my favourite brother- in-law. Just keep up the good work.”
Jayla stood there, mouth open. The boss was giving Greg all the good clients, while the rest of the salespeople had no choice in their assignments. “What am I supposed to do?” Jayla wondered. “If I say something to Deon, he will give me a bad evaluation. If I say anything to Mia, I may get fired. And I definitely can’t say anything to the other salespeople. There would be a riot.” Saddened, she sat at her desk and wondered what to do.
Ethical Dilemma 4
One year out of the university system, Randy was hired by Meeker, a medical warehouse that provides pharmaceutical products to various hospitals and clinics within a three-state area. Meeker was the dominant company in the market. As a new employee, he was required to go through extensive training to learn about hospital and clinic regulations, laws, various system procedures, and software applications. The two-month training included descriptions of the usual type of emergencies experienced in clinics and hospitals and what the needs were concerning equipment and supplies. He learned how to use various products and equipment and to train others in these areas. Part of his training was working in all areas of the medical warehouse.
One day Randy’s supervisor, Cheryl, brought him into her office to discuss his next assignment. She explained to him that several of the hospitals they serve were about to begin their annual inventory counts. When these inventory counts occur, a representative from Meeker must go into the hospitals and replace all expired supplies and equipment with new ones. “One of the problems we’ve been having is the expiration dates on the products we supply are shorter than those of our competitors,” Cheryl explained.
“To keep our clients loyal, we offer a credit to our clients when we take back the expired products. Unfortunately, that’s caused us to lose profits.” She continued, “We can’t keep losing profits like this, so I’ve developed an idea for cutting costs and increasing our competitive advantage.” Cheryl handed several sheets of sticky labels to Randy. The labels were exact replicas of the labels on their medical products for over-the-counter medications; yet expiration dates on these labels were three months after the current date. Cheryl told Randy to replace the old labels with the new ones and leave the inventory in the hospitals. Randy said, “But Cheryl, couldn’t this be dangerous if the hospital uses expired products?”
Cheryl shook her head. “You don’t have to worry. Our competitors offer similar products with a longer expiration date, and there’s really no harm in using these products after their expiration date. They are just a little less potent, but not more harmful in any way.” Randy took the labels and headed to the hospitals. Randy thought, he would only be extending the date by three months, which is not a long time for medications.
However, thinking back to his training about expired medical products, Randy recalled being cautioned against using expired prescription medications, not anything about over-the-counter medications. Randy also wondered if he would be questioned by the hospital administration staff when he asked for their signature on the inventory paperwork. He knew they would find it odd if there were no credits to their account for expired medications. How would he explain the “new policy” to them without being dishonest?
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