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Interpersonal Relations: One Cent Ethical Dilemma

What actions do you recommend Rajah take about his concerns with respect to the new one-cent-in-change policy?

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There are several important factors to consider in this situation. Rajah should check whether the policy is a part of the overall company strategy or it is the initiative of his regional manager. Rajah might have a better chance to influence the situation in the second case. If his regional boss developed the policy, it would be crucial to establish Lauren’s motivation for implementing it. Lauren might sincerely believe that this ploy will benefit the company. Another possibility here is that he envisions being promoted if he meets his goals. Rajah should also analyze whether his boss is likely to treat his concerns with respect. Lauren might ignore Rajah’s concerns, even if he delivers an evidence-based, convincing argument. He is young, has little experience, and probably belongs to a different ethnic group. All these factors might negatively impact his conversation with the boss.

One strategy Rajah should consider employing is collecting feedback from the cashiers. He can ask them to document every case when a customer asks them to give a penny back and expresses even the slightest dissatisfaction. When he collects enough evidence, he can present the case to Lauren. In doing so, Rajah should avoid accusing his boss of a misdemeanor, as it will reduce his chances of success. If Lauren genuinely wants the company to succeed, he might realize that his policy causes reputational damage to the organization and revert it. However, if he is motivated by a potential promotion, and does not care about the long-term goals of the company, this strategy might prove inefficient. As previously noted, if the policy is sanctioned at the highest level, it will be more difficult to change it. However, if Rajah convinces his boss that this tactic is harmful to the company, Lauren might share his findings with the top management and ask them to reevaluate the effectiveness of the policy.

Explain whether you think Rajah should blow the whistle on his employer.

Blowing the whistle on the employer is not the best solution in this case. Dubrin (2015) states that a “problem with blowing the whistle, particularly in a big company, is that your complaint is likely to be ignored” (p. 371). Therefore, Rajah should use every chance to resolve the problem without appealing to a higher authority.

What is your opinion of the ethics of the new policy about withholding one-cent-in-change?

Even though Lauren’s point regarding customers not caring about one penny is reasonable, the policy is unethical. By not giving a penny back, the cashier effectively robs the customer of his money. The only case where keeping the change would be acceptable is when a customer tells the cashier that they do not want it.

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Is there a need for ethics training? If so, why?

Ethics training could prove useful in raising awareness about ethical issues among the employees. If the staff is morally conscious, there is a better chance they will protest against unethical policies, and the management of the company will be forced to reconsider those. Ethics training for senior leaders can be useful to ensure they understand the impact of the decisions they make on the company image and workplace environment.

How often should ethics training take place? Why?

Ethics training should take place regularly (for example, once a month) to reinforce positive habits. Moreover, in the modern sociopolitical environment, ethical guidelines might change over time. Therefore, it is vital to ensure that ethics training is relatable and based on current issues.

By having ethics training, what can the employer and employees learn?

They can learn how to distinguish unethical behaviors and prevent those. They can also learn the benefits of ethical conduct for company culture, the public image of the company, employee satisfaction, and so forth.


Dubrin, A. J. (2015). Human relations: Interpersonal job-oriented skills (12th ed.). Pearson.

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