Category Archives: Workplace

Workplace Dilemma: Do You Really Want To Know What Everyone Else Is Being Paid?

Miles Teller, who really showed THEM...

Non-La La Land star Miles Teller, who really showed THEM…

The male star of the buzzy movie musical “La La Land,” which opens next week, is Ryan Gosling. The role was originally offered to Miles Teller, who was a rising hot property and star on the threshold for acing the role of the abused drummer in “Whiplash,” like “La La Land” directed by Damien Chazelle.

But according to the people familiar wit negotiations, Teller was insulted by money he was offered,  a paltry $1 million, primarily because his putative co-star, Emma Stone,was being offered almost $3 million. After some back and forth, Chazelle replaced Teller with Gosling. Thus did Teller lose out on an a rare opportunity to make himself a major star in a film that is widely believed to be an Oscar magnet, and, of course, he won’t have that million dollars, either.

This a particularly vivid example of the ethics dilemma created by comparative salaries. I have not seen or heard of a satisfactory solution to it, from the management side or the labor side. Management would prefer that employees not know what other employees are making, and with good reason. The information can cause envy, bitterness, anger and lawsuits. Every employee has a tendency to believe they are more valuable, and indispensable, than they really are. Of course, some employers want to keep salaries secret because there are disparities that they cannot defend, or that may be illegal. While transparency is desirable to prevent unfair salary differences, however, it can make legitimate disparities untenable. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Gender and Sex, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, Workplace

Unethical Facebook Post Of The Month: The Fired KFC Employee

unethical-tweet

We can make short work of this one. The post, which is being circulated around social media with great glee, embodies an unethical impulse, breach of confidentiality, and vengeance. It is miles away from the other end of the disgruntled ex-employee spectrum, but on the spectrum nonetheless, along with taking a shotgun to one’s former office and firing away. Trying to harm an employer because you got yourself fired simply illustrates the kind of character deficits that resulted in the termination.

As with everything else in life,there is an ethical way to get fired. That would be to shake the hand of the one who handed you the pink slip, state your appreciation for the chance to work and sincere regret that it did not work out, then to say good-bye and good luck to fellow workers, then walking out with head held high. Leaving while darkly muttering “You’ll be sorry!” under your breath, or trying to harm the company’s reputation or business though retaliation later, is both unethical and stupid. Calvin better hope his ill-considered message doesn’t get into any potential employer’s hands. You’d have to be nuts to hire someone like him.

His is the not-so-secret recipe for distrust and failure.

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Facebook, Workplace

Meltdown At Gate 43

american

As you probably have discerned, I am not having a good week on the road.

Today I am in Tucson, Arizona for less that 24 hours at a lovely resort that I will get to enjoy essentially not at all. Getting here, however, was the ethics adventure, or perhaps ethics breakdown is the better term.

My flight was supposed to start boarding at 4:30, but for some reason unclear to the assembled, did not. It was a real mob, a full flight, and as always at Reagan National , people were jockeying for position. They were also confused; a neighboring American gate was also boarding, and the announcements sounded like they were coming from our gate. Suddenly a gate attendant—is that what they are called?—came running up, and pushed through the crowd, sporting a big grin, why, I have no idea.

He grabbed the microphone and said, “All right, everybody, we’re ready to board American flight 2766 to Phoenix!” and nothing else.  “I guess they’re boarding everyone!” someone said, and there was a mad rush for the lane. “No no no!” the new arrival said. “First class only!” ” Did he say ‘first class only’ before?” I asked the young women standing next to me. “No,” she said, confirming my belief, “but then I can’t tell what he’s saying anyway.” True enough: the guy mumbled and didn’t seem to know how to use a mic. Then the VERY CLEAR announcement from the adjoining gate boomed out: “Now boarding Group 2!”

Again a mob of my flight’s passengers rushed the gate, and the young man with the grin shouted “NO! Get back! Now we are boarding the Platinum, Gold, Silver, American Plus, Bronze Bonus, Flying Potato passengers only!” Or something like that. He was barely heard, and the announcement from the nearby gate washed over it. “Now boarding groups 1,2 and 3!” More confusion. Another American employee at the our gate took the mic, a young woman. “AH!” I thought. “She obviously knows how to do this.”

No, she didn’t. You know that woman in “Jaws” who sees the shark in the lagoon and shouts “Shark! A shark!” so weakly that I have never been able to figure out why Spielberg cast her? The American lady made THAT woman seem like Ethel Merman by comparison. Her mouth moved, but nothing came out. “What did she say?” “What was that?” Everybody was asking everyone else if they could figure out who was supposed to go next. Then the guy who arrived late started shouting at us!

“We have not called the priority levels or group 1 yet! You are blocking passengers from accessing the gate! Move out of the lane.” From next door: “NOW BOARDING ALL GROUPS!!”

More chaos and confusion. Eventually I moved through to the jetway; I have no idea if they called my group or not. There were four attendants at the gate, an older man checking the boarding passes, the mute, the jerk who shouted at us (Rule: if crowd gets out of control, it’s the crowd controllers who usually are at fault), and a women in a uniform who was standing to the side looking like this was funny to her and otherwise doing nothing. I assumed she was a supervisor…a bad one. So I went up to her, and said, not entirely pleasantly, “This is the most incompetent boarding process I have ever seen. It’s inexcusable.”

She looked at me indignantly and said, in some kind of Hispanic accent, “This is America, sir! If you want to make a complaint, contact management. I’m just an employee,”

Wait..WHAT? Now I have to deal with an arrogant Hispanic American with a chip on her shoulder? Is she going to lecture me on white privilege? “This is America”? What the hell does that have to do with anything? Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Daily Life, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, U.S. Society, Workplace

Four Unethical Dispatches From The 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck: #4

kill-trump-tweets

The last of our four unethical missives (the previous ones are here, here, and here) comes from the CEO of Grubhub. But first, consider the election night Facebook discourse above, by the chief executive of San Diego cybersecurity start-up PacketSled, Matt Harrigan. The key tweets are a bit hard to read. The top left one says he’s going to kill the President-Elect. The bottom left says he’s getting a sniper rifle.

He has been placed on leave by his board.

Good move.

GrubHub Inc. CEO Matt Maloney was a bit more genteel, writing to his employees The Day After:

SUBJECT: So… that happened… what’s next?

I’m still trying to reconcile my own worldview with the overwhelming message that was delivered last night. Clearly there are a lot of people angry and scared as the antithesis of every modern presidential candidate won and will be our next president.  While demeaning, insulting and ridiculing minorities, immigrants and the physically/mentally disabled worked for Mr. Trump, I want to be clear that this behavior – and these views, have no place at Grubhub. Had he worked here, many of his comments would have resulted in his immediate termination. 

We have worked for years cultivating a culture of support and inclusiveness. I firmly believe that we must bring together different perspectives to continue innovating – including all genders, races, ethnicities and sexual, cultural or ideological preferences. We are better, faster and stronger together.  Further I absolutely reject the nationalist, anti-immigrant and hateful politics of Donald Trump and will work to shield our community from this movement as best as I can.As we all try to understand what this vote means to us, I want to affirm to anyone on our team that is scared or feels personally exposed, that I and everyone else here at Grubhub will fight for your dignity and your right to make a better life for yourself and your family here in the United States. 

If you do not agree with this statement then please reply to this email with your resignation because you have no place here. We do not tolerate hateful attitudes on our team.I want to repeat what Hillary said this morning, that the new administration deserves our open minds and a chance to lead, but never stop believing that the fight for what’s right is worth it. 

Stay strong, Matt

The key text was this…

“I absolutely reject the nationalist, anti-immigrant and hateful politics of Donald Trump and will work to shield our community from this movement as best as I can….If you do not agree with this statement then please reply to this email with your resignation because you have no place here.”

There’s nothing wrong with nationalism, in moderation. Trump isn’t anti-immigrant, he’s anti-illegal immigrant. What constitutes the politics of Donald Trump and whether or not it is hateful is open to interpretation. Nonetheless, Maloney is clearly saying that his employees must agree with his partisan views (and selective sense of diversity or inclusion), or they forfeit their jobs.

After it was pointed out to Maloney that the e-mail demanded ideological conformity, was probably illegal under some state laws (like California) and was gallactically stupid, he tried to explain with a deceitful apology, writing in part, Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Facebook, Government & Politics, Workplace

Ethics Quiz: Is Nice Necessarily Ethical?

checkin

If it seems like I always have ethics dilemmas to deal with on the road, your impression is correct. I’m at a hotel in Boston, and I have another one.

I arrived at the hotel after a late flight tired, with a headache. The door was locked, which is sometimes the case after 10 or so at small hotels; it was 11:30 PM. So I rang the bell. Nobody. I rang it again. And again. I knocked. Then I rang again. Finally, I went into the pub next door, which was also closed, but the door was ajar. “Does anyone know how I’m supposed to get checked into the hotel?” I asked>

Someone did know: the hotel night clerk, who had gone next door to watch TV.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day:

Should I complain to the hotel management about this?

Continue reading

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The Doctor, The Emergency And The Flight Attendant: A Depressing Ethics Tale With No Ethical Resolution In Sight

Was it race, gender, youth, all of them, or none of them?

Was it race, gender, youth, all of them, or none of them?

Tamika Cross, a young OB-GYN flying Delta from Detroit to Minneapolis,  heard flight attendants calling for medical assistance when a passenger  man two rows in front of her was found to be unconscious. Dr. Cross raised her hand, only to be told, according to Cross’s subsequent Facebook post on the incident, “Oh no, sweetie, put your hand down. We are looking for actual physicians or nurses or some type of medical personnel. We don’t have time to talk to you.”

Cross says she tried to  explain that she was a physician, but was “cut off by condescending remarks,” from the attendant. A moment later, when there was a second call for medical assistance and Cross again indicated that she was ready to help, the same flight attendant said, according to Cross, “Oh wow, you’re an actual physician?” She then quizzed Cross  about her credentials, area of practice, and where she worked. In the meantime, a white, middle-aged male passenger appeared, and Cross, she says, was dismissed.

On her now viral Facebook post, Dr. Cross concludes:

“She came and apologized to me several times and offering me Skymiles. I kindly refused. This is going higher than her. I don’t want Skymiles in exchange for blatant discrimination. Whether this was race, age, gender discrimination, it’s not right. She will not get away with this….and I will still get my Skymiles….”

What’s going on here?

Stipulated:

1. This was an emergency situation.

2. Dr. Cross sincerely felt insulted and treated with disrespect.

3. She also feels that she was the victim of stereotyping,, bias and prejudice.

4. Her account can be presumed to be an honest recounting of how she experienced the episode.

5. The Roshomon principles apply. We do not know how the flight attendant perceived the situation as it developed, and will never know, since the incident is already tainted with accusations of racism.

6. This was an emergency situation.

7. There is no way to determine what the flight attendant was thinking.

8. Despite all of the above, observers, analysts and others will be inclined see the event as confirmation of their own already determined beliefs and assumptions.

9. This was a single incident, involving a set of factors interacting in unpredictable ways.

Next, some ethical observations…. Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Facebook, Gender and Sex, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, Professions, Race, U.S. Society, Workplace

Half Ethics Hero: Wisconsin Talk Radio Host John Murphy

angry-caller

Longtime Eau Claire, Wisconsin radio talk show John Murphy walked out of of his WAYY studio midway through his morning show this week.

He had just finished telling his listeners that he would not be chased out of the industry he loves but that, “I’m through doing this show as it is.” The sports talk show scheduled to follow Murphy started early to cover for his absence after a commercial break. The frustrated talk show host had been on Eau Claire radio for 34 years, for the past 14 years as a host of the “WAYY Morning Show,” a typical local call-in program where the  callers discussed and debated local, state and national news. Murphy quit, he said, because the discourse this year gradually stopped being civil, and had degenerated into a partisan and ugly exchange of nastiness and hate.

“It started with a lot of Trump and Clinton stuff, but now that same kind of vitriol is starting to permeate our local races and local issues,” Murphy explained.  “After a while, day after day and week after week, that starts to wear on you.”  Murphy said he knows that many of the callers hurling insults “are educated, wonderful people who have become caught up in this hurricane of hate.” He says the frustration had been building up inside him for months, and that he was beginning to engage in some of the same behavior he deplored. Continue reading

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