Friendly Digits Company’s Ethical and Legal Complication

Ethical Analysis

Friendly Digits is currently facing two ethical dilemmas, which are fraud and dishonesty. In this case, the frameworks of consequence, rights, character, and pragmatism are the key pillars that are used to analyze the above dilemmas. Based on the Badaracco ethical analysis, there are two options in handling this current dilemma. The first option would be to ignore the new information indicating that Tara King is not qualified to be a vice president and allow her to continue serving in the same position. The second alternative would be to temporarily suspend Tara King from holding the current position until she meets all the requirements.

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In the first option, the winners are Tara and the Friendly Digits as the status quo is maintained. The losers are the human resource department and other employees as a result compromised the ethical principles of the company. The potential risk under this option is the fallout from other employees when the truth is finally revealed (Sher, 2012). Under the second alternative, the winners are the Friendly Digits and other employees as ethical principles would be upheld. The losers are Tara King and the Friendly Digits as she will lose her job and the company would have to recruit another employee. Thus, the plan of action based on the consequence framework is the second option since the company would not lose its top employee just because of an ethical hitch.

Under the rights framework proposed by Badaracco, the Friendly Digits employees have rights that cannot be violated because their ethical guidelines are part of the organizational culture (Velasquez, 2012). It would be illogical to protect Tara at the expense of all other employees. In making an ethical decision, it would be prudent to review the character framework by sending a clear message about the principles that cannot be compromised. This means that an action must be taken on Tara to ensure that a similar scenario in the future will have a positive solution reference point. Lastly, on the basis of the pragmatism framework, there is a need to separate the ethical hitch from the interests of the Friendly Digits (Sher, 2012). Specifically, this can be done in a structured manner to ensure that the result is standardized and application in the future.

Based on the three tests proposed by Badarocco, which are the newspaper, golden rule, and obituary assessments, any ethical decision should be related to the plans, the right course of action, and universality. In relation to Tara King’s case, it is important to consider the outward appeal of a proposed action plan and general reaction from the public (Velasquez, 2012). For instance, the Friendly Digits would attract a lot of unnecessary attention if the case is not handled with restraint. It is also important to integrate the golden rule by considering Tara’s reasons for having not completed her MBA. Turning a blind eye in decision making without considering her confession would be detrimental since any decision would, directly and indirectly, affect her. Lastly, passing this scenario through an obituary test reveals an interesting approach to handling this dilemma (Sher, 2012). For instance, in the best interest of the Friendly Digits, employees with high-performance records should be retained at whatever cost. However, the character of such an employee should align with the ethical expectations in place.

Legal Analysis

Basically, Tara King misrepresented herself in order to get the promotion. This is criminal and she can be charged in the industrial court. In this scenario, this fraud can be categorized as civil and criminal since the intentions were to defraud the company through falsification in disclosure (Mackey, 2012). Tara King committed resume fraud, which can attract penalties based on criminal and civil laws in place. Specifically, since Tara was fully aware of her intentions to falsify her MBA qualifications and the results were used to consider her for the promotion, she committed civil fraud. This type of fraud falls within the common law that has statutory provisions on remedies such as monetary compensation (Sher, 2012). In the case of the Friendly Digits, Tara King may be obliged to refund the company of excess remuneration that the new position provided. For instance, she may be convicted by the court to reimburse the Friendly Digits excess earnings, depending on the period she has been a senior vice president.

The principle of ’employment-at-will’ gives an employer the will to terminate any employment contract without notice. In this scenario, the Friendly Digits may give reasons such as moral reprehension and fraud. However, the ending of such a contract should be done within the principles of the employment-at-will provision (Mackey, 2012). Since Tara King was not under an express contract, the employment-at-will provision is applicable in the event that she has to be relieved of her duties. Since the current employment contract does not fall under the promissory Estoppel provision, which is characterized by making a specific employment promise to an employee, the company has a legal backing if the board of management decides to dismiss her (Mackey, 2012).

Memo

Subject: or Re: Ethical and Legal Complication of Tara King’s Current Position

As the ethics officer, it has been brought to my attention the case of Tara King, who was recently promoted to the position of a senior vice president of the Friendly Digits, a subsidiary of the Colossal Corporation’s Technology Group. From the allegations presented by one of the employees, I have carried out a background search of the ethical and legal employment statutes that are currently governing the hiring process at the company. I am going to explain the rationale for my decision based on the current ethical and legal principles governing the Friendly Digits.

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Ethical Approach

The actions of Tara King to falsify her academic documents and accepting the position of a senior vice president undermines the preset guidelines governing personality, behavior, and cognition within the Friendly Digits. Based on the Badaracco ethical analysis, there are two options in handling this current dilemma. The first option would be to allow her to continue serving in the same position without any action. The second alternative would be to temporarily suspend Tara King from holding the current position until she completes her MBA. In either of these options, there will be winners and losers.

Under the first alternative, the company will gain through improve performance, and Tara will retain her job. However, other employees would feel disgruntled and the company might lose qualified employees in the event of fallout. The ethical principles guiding hiring and promotion would be compromised. This means that the values and virtues such as integrity, honesty, and full disclosure would be affected negatively. In the second alternative, Tara King would lose and to some extent affect the administrative and technical flow of the company since her position would be vacant. However, the Friendly Digits and the other employees would feel better for upholding the ethical principles. However, the company may face the risk of reduced performance since Tara may be dismissed.

As the ethics officer, I would recommend the Friendly Digits to adopt the second option to avoid potential degradation of its current ethical principles guiding the hiring and promotion strategies. Although Tara would temporarily lose her position, this alternative would prevent potential fallout. During the period of suspension, Tara King will have an opportunity to complete her MBA after which she will resume her position. This suggestion is based on her high performance and the interest of the shareholders who would not want to lose a valued employee because of an ethical breach.

Legal Approach

The main legal issue, in this case, is a fraud. Tara King’s action falls within the at-will-fraud, which provides a fertile ground for termination and limits any argument by the employees on the basis of the wrongful dismissal. In this case, the Friendly Digits has a ‘just cause’ to terminate the employment contract with Tara as provided in the ‘contractual just cause’ legal provisions (Mackey, 2012). Should the Friendly Digits decide to terminate her employment contract, the company is protected from any legal suite on the principle of employment-at-will. Since the ground for dismissal does not conform to exceptions in the public policy violation provision, the Friendly Digits is within its legal mandate in discharging duties related to hiring and firing employees. This means that Tara King will not have any legal backing to challenge the ground of dismissal, as long as it falls within the employment-at-will provision. Moreover, Tara is guilty of fraud, which is a satisfactory course for termination of an employment contract.

Course of Action

Since the current dilemma is both an ethical and legal challenge, there is a need to execute a well-informed plan to minimize potential setbacks. Considering the analysis, Tara King is guilty of ethical and civil crimes through misrepresentation of her resume to get promoted to the current position. Therefore, as the director of human resources, you should immediately inform the CEO that Tara is not qualified to be a senior vice president. Remember to attach her falsified resume and any other evidence to support your action. The CEO should alert the board of directors for an emergency meeting. In such gathering, the decision of the board of directors would determine the course of action. However, I would urge you to present the following recommendations to the board of directors to inform their decision.

Recommendations

Although the action of Tara King is both unethical and illegal, the board of directors should consider a temporary suspension as opposed to dismissal. During the period of temporary suspension, the management may appoint one of the directors to act in the position of Tara King. At the same time, Tara will be given an opportunity to complete her MBA program. After graduation, she may be given back her position. Basically, this recommendation considers the legal and ethical requirements. Specifically, the company will not lose a high-performing employee who has been performing her duties as required just because of a single requirement.

References

Mackey, M. (2012). Ex-Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson and seven other cases of resume fraud. Web.

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Sher, G. (2012). Ethics: Essential readings in moral theory. New York, NY: Routledge.

Velasquez, M. (2012). Business ethics: Concepts and cases (7th ed.).New York, NY: Pearson.

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