|Robert was employed as a sales representative by the United States Steel Corporation. It had a “whistleblowing” policy and procedure by which employees could make complaints about company policies and products. Robert, who was not a safety expert, believed that one of the company’s products had not been adequately tested and posed a serious danger. In accordance with company policy, Robert notified his supervisor of his concerns. The product was successfully tested and marketed and caused no harm. Robert had
| fulfilled his ethical obligations as a salesperson because he followed company policy concerning unsafe products.
|Bernard is the owner and manager of a small auto-parts store. He thinks that talking about business ethics with employees takes time that would be better spent paying attention to customers. He also does not believe that he has a right to tell other people how they should behave. Is Bernard likely to create an ethical workplace with this way of thinking? Why or why not?
|Bernard is unlikely to create an ethical workplace, because the attitude of top management influences employee ethics.
|Marshall owns and operates a construction firm. He uses inexpensive and low-grade building products and accepts inferior carpentry work from his subcontractors. Nevertheless, Marshall complies with all the city building codes as well as all state and federal laws. Has he fulfilled all of his ethical obligations?
|No, because legal compliance is regarded as the moral minimum.
|Under state law, a manufacturer must design a dangerous product so as to avoid harm to people who are using the product as intended or in an unintended but foreseeable way. Bennett, a six-year-old, placed a Bic cigarette lighter under his shirt and lit the lighter. His shirt caught on fire, causing him severe burns. His mother sued Bic, contending it was liable because the lighter was a dangerous product and Bennett’s use of the lighter was unintended but foreseeable. The court is most likely to find that Bic was
|liable, because it was foreseeable that a child would have access to and try to use a lighter
|Patrick, the human resources manager at Acme Company, must decide how to cut personnel costs. This decision will harm employees who are laid off or fired. Patrick must balance the interests of employees who have been loyal to the firm for a long time against the interests of
|Jeff believes in the principle of rights theory and uses it to make ethical decisions for his business. He must decide whether to expand his business into Asia. Several key employees do not want the business to expand overseas and have threatened to quit if Jeff makes this move. Under the principle of rights theory, he will make this decision by considering
|how the expansion will affect the rights of his employees, his consumers, and the community into which he wishes to expand.
|Sanderson worked in a travel service office and had access to the reservation systems of several airlines. Sanderson accessed the system and replaced the names of passengers with fictitious names. She also enrolled the fake names in the airlines’ frequent-flyer programs. Her husband set up mailboxes under those names for the delivery of free airline tickets “earned” under the frequent-flyer programs. Real passengers were not harmed by and did not complain of the deception. The Sandersons’ behavior was
|unethical and illegal, because their actions constituted theft from the airlines.
|Ted is the owner and chief executive officer of a business. He recently began an advertising campaign to promote a new product that is regulated by state law. The law is somewhat unclear. Before launching the campaign, he researched the relevant law and consulted with his attorney in an effort to comply with the law. Nevertheless, the attorney general of his state has filed a lawsuit against him for deceptive advertising. Ted’s best defense is that
|he acted in good faith.
|Bribery is acceptable in certain foreign countries. Indeed, U.S. Development, Inc., has found that the only way it can ensure delivery on certain contracts in these countries is to bribe the officials. This is
|permitted by U.S. law if the payment is made to a minor official to speed up administrative procedures.
|The upper-level management of Nationwide Sales Corporation wants to fire Andy because he is a nonproductive employee. Using a utilitarian approach to business ethics, management would probably consider
|the costs and benefits of retaining a nonproductive employee.
|Regan owns and manages The Coffee Shoppe. She likes to experiment with different management styles and life philosophies. She recently studied Kantian ethics and asks her employees to begin following Kant’s categorical imperative at work. This means that the employees should
|consider their actions in light of the consequences if everyone in society acted the same way.