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Ethical Decision Making: Case Analysis Essay

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Updated: Nov 7th, 2021

Step 1- Analyze the Situation

The case is regarding a problem worker, Davis Meany, at a manufacturing company that employs 110 workers. Meany has been with the company for almost ten years and is protected by a strong union contract. He knows all the details of the contract and uses the loopholes in the contract to avoid doing work he does not like. He also often comes late and leaves early and takes long washroom breaks. His attitude is affecting the morale and work habits of other workers.

It is difficult to fire him since no one will file any grievance against him. And whenever the company tries to take any actions, other union workers rally strongly behind him, perhaps afraid that if Meany is disciplined by the management, they too will lose some of their rights.

The company wants to fire Meany and as the Personnel Manager, there is pressure on me from the plant manager to get rid of Meany using whatever means necessary. The plant manager has implied that it is alright to use unethical, immoral, or even illegal means to get rid of Meany. A golden opportunity has now presented itself to help me get rid of Meany. The personnel manager of a company with which our company does small business has contacted me about Meany. Sajid Singh, the personnel manager of the company is thinking of hiring him. However, he needs a strong letter of recommendation from me. This is a great opportunity to get rid of Meany.

Step 2- Main ethical concern in the situation

The other company will not hire Meany unless I give him a strong letter of recommendation. This would essentially mean lying since Meany is definitely not one of our best employees. It goes against the Prima Facie duty to not lie. On the other hand, if I truthfully tell Sajid Singh all the problems that Meany has caused, they will not hire him and we will have to put up with his wayward ways for even longer, which may hurt my company. This goes against the principle of fidelity according to which I owe it to my company to do what is best for the company.

Step 3- Possible Solutions

  • Solution 1: Give Meany a strong letter of recommendation so that he is hired by the other company.
  • Solution 2: Tell them the truth about Meany and hope that he will find a job somewhere else and eventually quit. Meanwhile, I can handle other employees so as to minimize Meany’s impact on their morale.

Step 4- Consequences of Each Solution

  • Outcome 1: The outcome of the first solution is pretty straightforward: we will get rid of a troublesome employee and it will help restore the morale of other employees.
  • Outcome 2: If I decide on the second solution, it will mean that Meany will continue to be a problem. And since his negative attitude is already affecting other workers, his continued presence in the company could result in some other serious problems.

Step 5- Probable Impact

  • Impact 1: The first solution will help solve the problem without involving the union, which tends to support Meany. Besides, other workers who are slowly starting to follow Meany’s example will also go back to more acceptable work habits in absence of the bad example of Meany.
  • Impact 2: If I decide against lying and chose the second option, others workers may soon start following his example, which could cause long-term problems for the company by lowering its productivity. By the time Meany eventually leaves the company, or we find an ethical way to get rid of him, it may be too late.

Step 6: Values upheld and violated

Values 1: If I decide to use the first solution to get out of this ethical dilemma, I will be upholding the principle of fidelity. This will help alleviate some of the harm Meany can cause the company and workers’ morale if he continues to work with us.

On the other hand, if I take this easy way out of this ethical dilemma, I will violate my duty to not lie.

Values 2: If I decide on the second solution to this ethical dilemma, I shall be upholding my duty to not lie but shall violate the principle of fidelity since Meany’s continued presence has the potential to harm my company.

Step 7: Evaluate each main solution and its consequence

Solution 1: We will be offloading our trouble to another firm with which we do business. Once they realize that Meany is far from a perfect employee, they may resent our lying and may no longer trust us in the future. However, it is possible that Meany may not create much trouble in the other firm. After all, he had worked in our firm for almost 10 years. Obviously, he was not a problem initially because management would have found a way to get rid of him long ago. If he follows a similar pattern in the new firm, they may not blame us and will be able to get rid of a troublesome employee and still maintain good relations with the other company.

Solution 2: The fact that Meany has applied for a job in the other company shows that he is no longer interested in working with our company. His bad behavior may in fact be due to the fact that he has lost interest in our company. If I do not give him a good letter of recommendation, forcing him to continue to work here, he may resent it and may actively start poisoning the minds of other workers. The union already supports him and if he holds a grudge against the company, it could prove disastrous.

Step 8- The Best Solution

Solution 1 is the best solution since it helps me get rid of a troublesome employee, who has the potential to gravely hurt my company, with practically no resistance. Also, I cannot ignore the fact that Meany himself wants to leave our company. It would also be wrong to prevent him from pursuing better career options.

Step 9- Main Weakness of the decision

The main weakness with this decision is that it violates the ethical principle of not lying. However, not lying is a prima facie duty and according to Ross’s ethical theory, a prima facie duty should not conflict with another prima facie duty of equal or greater importance. Here, my duty towards the well-being of my company is a greater duty than my duty to not lie. Hence, it is the right thing to do.

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