Although the case study is based on a fiction, its case is applicable in the real world. It is based on the ethical issues that arise in the workplace specifically the engineering sector. The arising problem in the case study is on whether David Jackson, a junior environmental engineer should act in protecting his longing of being a desirable employee or be compelled to act based on his beliefs which are protecting the safety, health as well as the social welfare of the public.
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However, the major featured ethical issue aspect in the Gilbane Gold video is the issue of whistleblowing. Other topics featured include the obligation engineers have on issues related to the environment, managerial issues related with trust and honesty between a company and the host community, and the fair role played by the host community on the domestic manufacturing plants.
There is also the conflict of law and moral obligation and the problems resulting from the groups and individual outcry in demand for an action based on incomplete scientific evidence.
The case is casted in Gilbane which is a fictitious town that depends on its sewage sludge for economic sustenance. The sewage plant in Gilbane produces sludge which is used as fertilizers hence the name ‘Gilbane Gold”. The city uses the revenues collected after Gilbane Gold sale for supplementing the tax revenues which saves each family of four people an annual fee of three hundred US dollars.
For safety purposes, the town has enacted rules restriction the discharge of heavy metals down the sewer line. However, the case is affected by two essential conflicting facts. One, the city depends on the plants in Gilbane for the supply of the test results. Before the presentation of the test results, an engineer attests and signs them for accuracy purposes.
The second fact is that a more sensitive test kit has been developed over the years, but the city does not use these results. However, the problem with the restrictions is that they are flawed in the sense that toxic levels are measured based on the volume of the discharge. This means that a company can discharge toxic wastes combined with huge discharge making it obsolete.
ZCORP, one of the companies specializing in the manufacture of computer components has been involved in a scandal where its tested wastes have shown high toxic metallic contents. This was revealed after the newer test was used although the city does not use the results.
The problem that arises is whether to reveal the test or not. Its disclosure would push the city to file a lawsuit against ZCORP. If ZCORP fails to disclose the results, then a portion of its employees may see it as bad faith between the involved parties. However, David Jackson an environmental engineer and new to the company, has replaced the prior consultant was fired upon the discovery of the test results.
David becomes wary of the situation, and his curiosity is intensified after realizing that ZCORP contract with the city would lead to more toxic discharge. The projected toxic discharge is believed to be five times than the current toxic level. Believing in the restoration of his obligation as an environmental engineer, David Jackson is compelled to reveal the truth being ZCORP. He blows the whistle by engaging a local TV anchor on the levels of toxic metallic wastes discharged by ZCORP in the Gilbane sewer.