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    Ethical reflection and individual advancement

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    You have worked at this organization for over 10 years and feel totally unappreciated. You have not received a promotion or pay raise in over 5 years, and you work long days and typically take work home with you to stay caught up. Your supervisor—who you despise because of the way he treats you and because he does not authorize any promotion or raise, whereas other departments do—climbs the staircase in front of your cubicle every day to get to his office. This particular supervisor has been with the organization for over 30 years and can essentially retire at any time, but he chooses to continue to work. You happen to notice that a portion of the staircase is rotting out and you are fearful of stepping on it yourself. You don't particularly like your supervisor, so you don't report it to your maintenance manager.

    Last Monday, your supervisor fell down the flight of stairs and did substantial damage to his back, necessitating his retirement. You found out that you are being promoted to his position. Your promotion will provide you with a handsome pay increase and allow you to get your family to live in a nicer and safer neighbourhood that is closer to work and has better schools. Have you violated any laws by your actions or inactions? Have you made any ethical violations? Explain.

    Do you believe you acted unethically by not reporting the rotting stairs? Why or why not?
    How would you handle the situation if you were the owner of the organization and found out that your employee failed to do anything or report the rotting stairs?
    Do you feel your actions or inactions warrant any disciplinary action? Explain. As an individual, do you feel that the scenario described could be or should be defended with something like "I was owed this raise and promotion because of my ability and time with the organization"? Explain.

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    Solution Preview

    Step 1
    At the inception let us clarify that your job description or what your role is in the organization is not given. For example, if you are an accountant, then it is not your responsibility to inspect staircases of your company and report them to maintenance. On the other hand since a maintenance department exists, it is the duty of the maintenance department to regularly inspect the staircases of the firm and other property and make them fit for use. In such a situation no law has been violated by you. Had maintenance and property inspection been your responsibility, and you had not reported the rot in the stairs then you would be responsible for negligence or wrongdoing. Since, there is no evidence that you are working in maintenance or are responsible for inspecting company property; you are not responsible by law.

    Step 2
    From the view-point of virtue ethics, it would have been an act of good character if you had reported the rot in the staircase to maintenance. The action of not reporting the rot in the staircase has little moral worth. It would have been an action of good virtue if you had reported the damage in the staircase. From the view-point of consequential ethics, the consequences of not reporting the ...

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