Despite hundreds of pages of policies, codes of business ethics, organizational values, and carefully defined company cultures, lapses in business ethics occur every day at work. The failure of employees to practice fundamental business ethics comes in all forms and sizes, both far reaching and close to home. Some ethical lapses affect individual employees. Other business ethics problems hurt whole work groups, and in the worst cases, whole companies and all of the stakeholders in the company suffer as a result. You probably witness employees failing to practice sound business ethics every day. Won’t you share your stories about business ethics problems with your colleagues?
See more Reader Responses to various other questions.
Unethical co-worker and even worse HR
- My co-worker goes to the hair salon to get her hair done and schedules personal appointments during work hours. when i complained to HR about her absenteeism, they told me it was not a problem because 'it didn't affect her overall performance'.
- —Guest guest-mae
- Two single employees, both account managers, on different accounts for a bank. They date, marry and work for 20 years. He is discouraged with his career. No advancement. He is recruited by another bank and considers a position doing the same function as his wife. Question: he is worried of his wife's situation at her bank. It is a conflict of interest? What could her bank do to her career? Same job, could be same clients?
- —Guest mike
The Buddy System
- I have been working at a place for seven years on shift. Four years ago, another supervisor was hired who does personal training on the side. Less experience and initiative, yet when the boss needed help on a straight daylight shift, I was passed over and a trainer guy got it. (btw the boss is a friend and a customer of trainer guy; they can now train and play basketball after work hours).
- —Guest Anonymous
Conflict of interest
- I work for a tug boat company. Well, we have a port captain whose son works with us. Basically, he gets away with everything. Hardly comes to work, first choice for schooling and his dad evaluates him at the end of the year. I'm sick and tired of this. What can be done about this? (Talk to your boss to see if there is anything that can be done, especially if it is having an impact on your ability to accomplish work. Leave for another job. But, yes, sometimes things are not fair or right.)
- —Guest Dean
When is management trained?
- 90% of survey responses complain about how our management created issues for them. Yet the employees get additional training and, of course, the tongue lashing, and good luck to the pittance of a raise.
- —Guest Biff
The Boss's Son
- I work for a safety training company and the manager is the father of one of the trainers. He has a top of the range car, starts and finishes work when he wants and gets a pay rise every year. What do the rest of us get? unpaid over time, cheaper cars, and more work.
- —Guest Dudley
Conflict of Interest
- We have a salesperson who has joined our department (strictly commissioned sales); my company purchased the rights to own this other company, so basically, they became our employees. However, she lives with a manager from another location only about 20 miles away, if that. I have already seen preferential treatment. She is allowed to sell on both sides of the floor. Not the rest of us--unless approved by management-which is not often, unless, there is heavy traffic. They seem to bend over backwards for this girl. Yesterday, I almost lost a sale because a manager wanted to give her the sale and told the customer in front of me that she would be better suited for their needs. I've been with this company a long time. I am a million dollar writer.
- —Guest Jean
- My husband's employer knew that he ran his own business on the side and still hired him. A month later, they asked him to send some of his business their way and they would give him a commission on it. Now, another month later, they're telling him that he has to choose: it's either his business or his job with them. I don't think this is fair since he was upfront with them from the beginning and they still hired him anyway and now all of a sudden it's a problem. (Susan says: It's not fair, but it's kind of predictable, especially if the businesses are similar and it sounds as if they share a product or customers. You husband may have to choose. Or, can you run the family business? I am sorry.)
- I came back from holiday to find that my sister-in-law had been taken on as HR Manager at the company I worked at - surprise! No-one thought to background check so they didn't know that she had fallen out with her brother (my husband!), not to mention various other relatives. This has, amongst other things, caused me a lot of stress at home, so much so that a year-on I was signed off by the doctor with stress, only to go back 2 weeks later to face a suspension letter. Trouble is, who can I turn to when the HR Manager is a family member and can't help me as it's a conflict of interest and the company pays her wages!
- —Guest anon
Business Ethics Failures by Employees
- Reporting a colleague for violating company policy led to retaliation on that employee's part, by reporting that the individual was difficult to work with. Managers believed the individual due to her likability with other managers. So the person reporting the violation was reprimanded.
- —Guest guest
HR Controls the Company
- A year ago the Human Resource Director hired her nephew and later hired her daugther. HR has access to all records including attendence. I personally worked with the daughter myself and we are only allowed 3 personal days. Her daughter was absent and late on several occasions on day shift (I was on days at that time and moved to third) so later she came to the shift I was on and every associate knows when one is absent or late. Her points got high and she was still being absent and not working her points down. It takes 30 days to work off only 1/2 of a point and, once the points get so high, depending on what time of the year it is, you only have a short time period to work them down and not be let go. I had to sign a waiver and work my points down from 5 1/2 and it took me almost 12 months to do so. The time for this attendence would be in October giving her daughter NO time to work her points down. As her points are currently at a no work down zone she has not been let go, but others have been.
New supervisor needs to be fired
- A new supervisor was hired, who already knew that 2 of her friends from a previous job would all be working together again but this time, the new employee is the supervisor and not co-worker. It caused so many problems that 3 people in the department filed a complaint against her to HR for conflict of interest and other violations. The company protected her and never took action, even violating HIPAA, and has proof in writing. Then 2 weeks after reporting the supervisor to HR, 2 of the 3 workers were written up on bogus allegations with no proof and was done by supervisor and director. Example 1: supervisor had to approve PTO requests. So she says to her subordinate and her friend. Hey, don't you normally take a summer vacation. The friend says yes. The supervisor then says, I need to know those days before I approve all of these in front of me. I don't want you to miss out. So her friend-subordinate had 1st pick of PTO vs. the rest of the dept. She said this out loud with only 1 other worker in the department who heard the whole thing.
- —Guest Conflict of Interest
Conflicts of interest
- I got a part-time job on the weekends for a news station. My full-time job was for a PR office. I did it because I wanted more experience and I needed growth that I wasn't getting in my first job. Plus, the extra money was nice. I was loyal to my first job all the way though. I worried someone might think it was a conflict of interest but that wasn't my intention. Well, I believe that was the beginning of the end for me at the PR job. It wasn't but a month or two after finding out about my weekend job that my boss had me start reporting to his secretary and I was on my way out the door. Micromangement and discipline for petty charges got me out legally. Ethically? I was fired for performance but had been denied development opportunities and performance evaluations for the previous 5 years. Policy violations unusual for that company as a whole. I'm glad I don't work there anymore and I have a deeper understanding of the importance of integrity through the experience.
- —Guest CB
- Attention Staff: It has come to our attention that lunches and other food products have gone missing. Please DO NOT take item(s) that do not belong to you! If you would like to borrow any food item(s) in this refrigerator, please be kind and ask the owner of that product. We are asking all staff to be professional and practice business ethics in regards to the belongings of others. Thank you for your attention in this matter!
- —Guest CJ
Misuse Company Property
- People have the opinion, that to use company property and time is ok. Such remarks: if you are in care of the company car, why not do some private chores driving it.
- —Guest Troubled