Did he have the right to make such promises knowing that the company may be moving to Mexico? The simple answer is no. It was unethical to make such promises knowing full well that the company may be moving to Mexico. However, it is not always simple. He made the promises knowing that the company MIGHT move to Mexico. The negotiations are still ongoing so at the time the promises were made he had no concrete knowledge that a move would be taking place. Because he had no knowledge of an actual move being planned, and only knew it was being negotiated he was under no legal obligation to not make those promises. Luckily ethical obligations and legal obligations are often two different things. Ethical obligations are not as concrete nor do they require proof beyond the shadow of a doubt. It is without question that the promises this company man made were unethical. Promising something that he knew had a good chance of never coming true was unethical. He ethically was obligated to be upfront and honest about the possible move to Mexico if he wanted to make promises that would require that information to be divulged. It was unfair and unethical to ask a union to work under the premise that things would happen that in most likely hood would not be happening at all.
This is not unlike the first question when it comes to why it is unethical. This supervisor is in a position of power and clout with the company. Had a low level employee made the promises they would have not carried the same ethical standard because the low level employee does not have the authority or company power to carry out the promises. This person, however, is in a professional position where he would be able to make such promises come true so when the union agreed to the terms it did so believing this man was being honest and professional promising things that he indeed can deliver.
Ethical behavior is the behavior of an honest individual and this individual was not honest with the union when he made such promises to the union.
The second general set of responses, while agreeing with the proposition that the unethical action of another should be reported, suggested a method of reporting that both recognizes individual ethical behavior and attempts to solve the specific problem created by the unethical act of another. For example:
Our first ethical duty is to correct the improper action as quickly as possible. The duty is there to protect companies we represent and our clients from unethical behavior. My first reaction would be to inform the person who worked for me and give [him or her] a chance to correct [his or her] wrongdoing. If it [were] a company we represent, I would give [the person] the opportunity to fix the problem before reporting it to the authorities. Neither would receive a second chance if [the] wrongdoing was repeated (Kensicki, 2000)!"
Ethical Issue #3
While the superior did have the right to demand to know the name of the informant he did not have the right to threaten the employee's job if she would not tell. It was a good time to test her loyalty and ethics when it came to company standards and management style but it was not ethically proper to threaten her job to try and get the name from her.
While this was not a fair thing to threaten the superior should have been more ethical in his dealings with the union as well thereby not putting the employee in the position of having to decide how to handle such unethical practices.
Returning to the issue of codes of ethics, it is no surprise that they generally only address individual action. As a rule, one basic objective of any code of ethics is to specify minimum ethical conduct of specific individuals subject to the code. The CPCU Society Code of Ethics, embodied within its bylaws, identifies three "unspecified unethical practices" and seven "specified unethical practices." The sixth "specified unethical practice" is applicable to the immediate question: "[t]o aid and abet in the performance of any unethical practice proscribed under this section.
Not reporting unethical business practices may well increase the poor image of the insurance business among the general public. If so, the CPCU Society's first "Unspecified Unethical Practice" is the "unethical practice (Kensicki, 2000)" member shall not engage in practices which tend to discredit the Society or the business of insurance and risk management (Kensicki, 2000)."
Ethical questions can often be very subjective because they are not legal questions and they do not have black and white answers. In the case of the fourth and final ethical question this becomes very clear.
When she went to the superior's boss and asked for help the question could be raised about her own ethics. One of the problems with ethics is not knowing the person's motivation which often defines whether or not someone acted ethically.
If she went to the head supervisor because she was truly concerned about the promises that were made to the union and she was worried the company would suffer in the credibility department, then she did indeed act ethically when she took that step. if, however, her reasons for going to the superior's boss was because she wanted to cast him in a bad light and make him look like a company liability it was not ethical. If she went to the big boss because she was not happy about the way the superior is an apparent ladder climber, and she felt he needed to be taken down then she was as unethical as he was when he made those false promises. Knowing her motivation would make it much easier to determine the ethics of her actions but with the information given it is understandable why she went to the big boss and her actions were most likely ethical.
When it comes to professional ethics the lines can become very blurred. So many things depend on the motivation behind actions and without being in the head of the person doing the action it is hard to know the motivations. This case is a good study in ethics as there were many ethical questions and different possibilities when it came to the answers.
ERWIN, WESLEY J. Supervisor Moral Sensitivity. Counselor Education and Supervision; 12/1/2000;
Kensicki, Peter R. 'Utmost Good Faith' Implies Good Ethics. National Underwriter Property & Casualty-Risk & Benefits Management; 7/31/2000;
Reamer, Frederic G.,the Social Work Ethics Audit:…