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Ethics & Professional Responsibility: Activities

Ethical Scenarios

Sample Dilemma

Your supervisor enters your office and requests a reimbursement check for $300 for expenses he incurred entertaining a client last night. He submits receipts from a restaurant and night club. Later that day, your supervisor’s girlfriend stops to eat lunch with him lunch and you overhear her telling the receptionist what a great time she had at dinner and dancing with your supervisor the night before.

What would you do?

Sample Dilemma

In your spare time at work, you have developed a new database program on the personal computer in your office. It is even more powerful, yet easier to use than anything on the market. You share your new program with a friend who encourages you to sell this new product. This could potentially be a very profitable venture.  This is a very attractive option, yet you developed it using company equipment and during time that you were at work.

What would you do?

Sample Dilemma

You are a rookie cop assigned to a training officer for your first six months of employment. The training officer is a 20-year veteran and is a close friend of the Chief of Police. The third day that you are working with him you respond to a burglary call at a local sporting goods store. It is 2:30 am and the manager has been notified. You are directed to wait 30-35 minutes for his arrival. A short time later you observe your partner take fishing lures, beef jerky, and a soda. He consumes the beef jerky and soda. When the manager arrives, the two of you depart.

What, if anything, should you do? 

Sample Dilemma

An employee on your IT team has told you she smelled what she thinks is alcohol on the breath of one of the sales team members.

“We were in the lunch room and I smelled, well, let’s say, strong fumes coming off from him all the way across the room. He was friendly enough and said hello, but I could hear him slurring his words. Then when he poured himself some coffee I could tell he was intoxicated because of the way he was spilling it everywhere.”

You have investigated the accusation and the salesperson has admitted to drinking on the job, but feels he has done nothing wrong. Choose your next course of action in dealing with this situation.

  1. Do nothing; salespeople sometimes have a drink with a client.
  2. Have a personal meeting with the salesperson in question. Review company policy and issue a written warning.
  3. Involve your human resources department in the termination process of the salesperson in question. There is no excuse for being intoxicated at the office.

Ethics in the News

Tile Shop CEO's brother-in-law fired for violations of business ethics policy.

In Life and Business, Learning to Be Ethical.

Video Activities

      Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs. (2013). Kurt Anderson on Edward Snowden. Retrieved from       

Reflect on the video

  • How is it possible to be glad someone acted in a certain way, but also believe they should be prosecuted for the same behavior?
  • In the video Kurt Andersen says Snowden’s actions may be “more good than bad.” How can an action be simultaneously good and bad?

Singer, P. (2010). Drowning child.  [Video File]. Retrieved from

Reflect on the video

  • What would you do?
  • What responsibility do you have to people in other countries?
  • How do you know if what you are doing is ethical or unethical?

Lubin, K. (2012, April 1). Ethics grey's anatomy. [Video file]. Retrieved from

Reflect on the video

  • In the video, Miranda uses the phrase “A crime against life.” What do you think she means by this?
  • How might the phrase “A crime against life” differ from a crime in the legal sense?