When authorities in companies step over the line and turn to unethical or illegal practices, the employees are faced with a choice. Doing the right thing is often difficult and might be even dangerous, but refusal to react to a problem will allow it to grow and become more serious. The responsible reaction of employees in case of a violation can prevent or at least minimize its potential damage, and if the right actions are taken in time, the problems might be solved.
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The practice of disposing medical waste from a hospital in a municipal landfill is both illegal and potentially dangerous. Chantale did the right thing when she did not ignore the situation and decided to talk about it with her supervisor and tried to understand the problem and fix it. Having discussed the issue with the management, she can now fully realize that the illegal disposal of the chemical is not a result of a mistake or an accident, but a deliberate action aimed to save money on utilization (MacDonald 1). She needs to make sure that she has the facts and evidence; it might include making copies of emails and documenting her actions. As a witness of an illegal and dangerous act, Chantale should report these facts to the authority. The thorough investigation of the violation needs to be carried out, with which she might need to collaborate and provide evidence. She also might be required to testify in a law court later on.
Loyalty to the company is important, but there are reasonable limits to it. If the employer commits acts that are illegal or unethical, the employees should take responsible actions. Participation in illegal or questionable practices or a refusal to react to the information about known violations makes an employee an accomplice. Not only it is wrong from a moral point of view, but it also might lead to severe consequences for that person.
If Chantale had a position of greater authority, it would empower her to conduct an investigation inside the company and find out what led to the problem and who is responsible. It might be possible to stop the illegal practices in the company. At the same time, if the problem could not be solved, a higher position in the firm would give Chantale better access to information. She would be able to collect the necessary evidence to report the crime. It is also important to mention that a position of greater authority would imply more responsibility and possibly more serious consequences in case she did not take any actions.
It would not make much difference if Chantale had scientific expertise in the subject. Even if she knew that the medical waste that had been disposed to the landfill was not dangerous for public health and the environment, it would not change the character of the situation. It would still be morally and legally justified to take action to stop the unethical practice.
Taking the right actions in time might prevent a major crisis from happening and will help to avoid serious damage before it is too late. Even people at the lower positions in the company carry a part of the responsibility for illegal practices if they know about them and do not take actions, allowing it to happen. Despite psychological pressure and the risk of getting fired, it is important that employees do not close their eyes when the company authorities commit unethical actions.
MacDonald, Chris. “Whistleblowing & the Environment: The Case of Avco Environmental.” Case Study, Web.