As the newly hired manager at Breakfast House, I have become aware of the corporate policy of firing employees without formally firing them – keeping them on the books and listing them on the shift board without assigning them any shifts. The company does this to avoid any potential costs that come from firing, and they are enabled to do this under state law due to ‘right-to-work’ policies. The company’s policy is clearly unfair to employees, as it does not give them their right to know that the company is terminating them and why they are doing so, and it does not allow them to collect unemployment benefits. Knowing that the company has this policy, I must reconsider working for them, knowing that at some point I will be forced to enact it. My trainer, Hector, is a manager also opposed to the policy, but he has had to enforce the company’s decision to use it in order to keep his job.
This ethical dilemma presents three potential courses of action. Firstly, I could follow Hector’s path and continue to work as a manager while enforcing the company’s unethical policy. I would be acting lawfully, since the policy is acceptable under state law, and rationally, since I would profit from the position, but I would be causing harm to other employees and betraying my own sense of ethics. Enacting the policy would cause me to be dishonest to my employees, since I would not be able to alert them of potential harm and (like Hector in the example) I would not be able to tell them their status with the company if they were put in this limbo. Secondly, I could continue to work as a manager, but refuse to enforce the policy. This would allow me to confront company higher-ups about this policy, though this would most likely lead to me being fired. This would allow me to benefit from the position in the meantime, but I would commit myself to do no harm even at expense to myself. Thirdly, I could quit my job, which would absolve me of personal guilt and would not aid the unethical company.
My decision is to stay on the job with the intent of resisting this policy. I can potentially do this in three ways. Firstly, when the company comes to me with their decision to enact this policy on an employee, I can refuse to enact it, voice my discontentment, and deliver an argument as to why I find this policy to be abhorrent. Secondly, I can try to organize action with other managers to either merely refuse to enforce this policy or make a form of protest. Thirdly, if the company then chooses to fire me, I can pursue legal avenues against the company on a personal level. While this policy may be legal, there could be the opportunity to act as a test case to question the constitutionality of the law. This solution is the one that allows the most potential to positively impact other people’s lives, since I am neither leaving the situation as is or helping it further manifest. It is true that I will be aiding a company that has this policy for the period of time I work for them, but I appreciate the company in other ways and have committed myself to not aid them, and in fact resist them, in this regard. I may be being dishonest to the company in the meantime by not registering to them that I plan to disobey their orders, but this dishonesty is not proportional to the harm that the company causes its employees.