Club PA 2.0 has arrived! If you'd like to access some extra PA content and help support the forums, check it out at patreon.com/ClubPA
The image size limit has been raised to 1mb! Anything larger than that should be linked to. This is a HARD limit, please do not abuse it.
Our new Indie Games subforum is now open for business in G&T. Go and check it out, you might land a code for a free game. If you're developing an indie game and want to post about it, follow these directions. If you don't, he'll break your legs! Hahaha! Seriously though.
Our rules have been updated and given their own forum. Go and look at them! They are nice, and there may be new ones that you didn't know about! Hooray for rules! Hooray for The System! Hooray for Conforming!

Business Ethics.

2»

Posts

  • SyrdonSyrdon Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    If you divulge trade secrets, you're liable.
    Sorry.
    Somehow I suspect that a policy that directly affects customers is not a trade secret. I'm going to make a few assumptions here: 1) this policy does directly affect customers. 2) the customers find out about this policy eventually. If those hold, would it be an issue if a customer were to post that policy? If its fine for a customer, what is the practical difference when an employee does it?
    Queued wrote:
    you're employed with the implicit understanding that you will follow them.
    I'm going to have to strongly disagree with this statement. No employer ever has the right to ask or require that you do anything you consider unethical. "I was just following orders" is never an excuse for unethical conduct. Ever.

    Also, if any of you actually think that a large corporation is going to change a a manifestly unethical or illegal policy simply because a low level employee points out the problem to them, you're pretty clearly wrong. I don't know how to say that any nicer. They will more than happily tell you that if you keep complaining that you might lose your job, that it will cost the company too much money to fix, or that acknowledging it could hurt the company but they will not fix the issue if you do not bring either public or regulatory scrutiny to the issue (for reference, I'll refer you to most satellite tv companies in the US and most of the wireless phone carriers in the US).

    Syrdon on
  • mythagomythago Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Since none of us knows where the OP lives or precisely what was or wasn't disclosed, it's a little silly for any of us to be giving advice on whether what he did entitled him to whistleblower protections, whether what he did was legal, etc. etc. YANAL? STFU.

    (Whether you think the OP was wrong or the company was wrong is a different matter. But 'you're not a true whistleblower' or 'what they did was illegal' are useless.)

    The advice I would give to the OP would be to speak to a competent employment/labor attorney. The OP will be able to tell that person all of the details - the name of the company, what the unethical practices where, and so on - and get an actual, useful opinion on who is or isn't in the wrong here, and whether the OP has any actual remedies or whether s/he screwed up and needs to just work on the ol' resume.

    mythago on
    Three lines of plaintext:
    obsolete signature form
    replaced by JPEGs.
  • UrcbubUrcbub Registered User
    edited March 2011
    Syrdon wrote: »
    If you divulge trade secrets, you're liable.
    Sorry.
    Somehow I suspect that a policy that directly affects customers is not a trade secret. I'm going to make a few assumptions here: 1) this policy does directly affect customers. 2) the customers find out about this policy eventually. If those hold, would it be an issue if a customer were to post that policy? If its fine for a customer, what is the practical difference when an employee does it?
    Queued wrote:
    you're employed with the implicit understanding that you will follow them.
    I'm going to have to strongly disagree with this statement. No employer ever has the right to ask or require that you do anything you consider unethical. "I was just following orders" is never an excuse for unethical conduct. Ever.

    Also, if any of you actually think that a large corporation is going to change a a manifestly unethical or illegal policy simply because a low level employee points out the problem to them, you're pretty clearly wrong. I don't know how to say that any nicer. They will more than happily tell you that if you keep complaining that you might lose your job, that it will cost the company too much money to fix, or that acknowledging it could hurt the company but they will not fix the issue if you do not bring either public or regulatory scrutiny to the issue (for reference, I'll refer you to most satellite tv companies in the US and most of the wireless phone carriers in the US).


    And I disagree somewhat with what you wrote:

    A company has every right to ask you to do actions you consider to be unethical, but you are right in that they cannot force you. If you agree to a set terms of employment however, and then break those terms (as in our example case) then they can fire you.

    If you change your mind and take it up with your boss without posting inside information they can still fire you, especially if your complaint is contradictory to the company's operations. For example: A McD employee watches supersize me and decides she can no longer stand selling McD burgers because their unhealthiness makes it, in her mind, unethical. McDonalds are not required to keep her on staff at this point.

    There are commonly accepted guidelines for how issues like this should be handled properly, and they boil down to move up the internal ladder and never go outside until all other options are exhausted. there is even an independent ethics hotline to contact before becoming a whistleblower. In our example, the employee broke these procedures and therefore got fired.

    That no issue will be resolved unless you go to the press is cynical to almost a fault. A lot of unethical issues goes on without the knowledge of higher managers, and once they find out they take corrective action. If top management is complicit in unethical actions then yes, you have to go outside. Unethical top management is not an uncommon situation, but it is still less common than ethical top management.

    Urcbub on
  • OptyOpty Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    It seems my vagueries have (unintentionally) caused some confusion.

    allow me to be a little more clear.

    I outsourced for a national cell phone carrier. They are the ones that initiated the investigation, they are the ones that demanded that my company fire me. Whatever it takes to please the client.

    I never accessed work email, VPN or the like from home. The only thing i did from home was access the external (public) forums, which i registered for with a junk email addy i created specifically for the purpose. Not in anyway tied, phonetically, thematically, or otherwise to any other email i use at work or home. I also never accessed the external forums from work in any way. (we had our own backend forums, similar, but different. I had a separate log on for these, which i never used at home) I also never posted from work in a thread i posted in at home.

    When i got the job, i agreed not to divulge information. I violated this policy, i understand my termination.

    I merely wanted to promote a discussion around the lengths and means by which they used to determine it was me, and the priority with which they gave it. Again, the client, not my company.

    Also, venting again: when you have a problem with someone reading "the rules", maybe the problem is with the rules, and not the person reading them?

    The policies that I had a problem with, again, were not illegal, merely things that made it possible and easy for customers to unknowingly incur drastically increased charges and/or loss/reduction of service, and prevented any recourse for the consumer to prevent,undo, monitor, or verify them.

    Their legal team probably handled it as part of their duties. Maybe they hired an external company to trace it back, maybe they had someone in-house handle it. Or hell, maybe whatever documents you leaked are altered slightly for each person who gets them so they instantly know who leaked them. Either way it's not like they pulled people working on whatever product they make and told them to go find you.

    Opty on
  • ElJeffeElJeffe Moderator, ClubPA mod
    edited March 2011
    MrMister wrote: »
    People are acting like the following two questions are equivalent:

    1) Company legally--or even morally--had the authority to fire employee
    -and-
    2) Employee did something wrong

    But they obviously are not.

    I'm not necessarily saying he did something wrong.

    I'm saying he did something stupid.

    Even if you accept it as true that the company was evil and he was releasing information to the world that needed to be shared, he did it in a retardedly ham-fisted manner that was almost guaranteed to get him fired without accomplishing much good anyway.

    ElJeffe on
    Maddie: "I named my feet. The left one is flip and the right one is flop. Oh, and also I named my flip-flops."

    I make tweet.
  • NewblarNewblar Registered User regular
    edited March 2011

    I found solace by the public company forums, which i registered for at my house, under an anonymous handle, with no ties to anything i did with the company.

    So, when people were to raise the issue on the public forums, I aired the companies' policy, verbatim.

    I'm assuming they traced my IP and matched it to the address in my personnel file.

    I'm sympathetic as I worked for a company like you did in the past, possibly even the same one and they were ridiculously unethical to the point that I felt like a piece of skum being associated with them. Needless to say I left as soon as possible but I still ended up there for almost 5 months and it was entirely soul crushing :(

    Quoting company policy verbatim would point you out as a current employee or someone that recently left. Posting this information on the company's public forum would get this noticed very quickly and didn't make it very difficult to track you as there are often legitimate reasons to track a posters IP. I would assume even Penny Arcade does this to help deter spamming.

    I merely wanted to promote a discussion around the lengths and means by which they used to determine it was me, and the priority with which they gave it. Again, the client, not my company.

    The process of tracking you down probably took all of 5 minutes. It was probably as simple as a community manager reading your post, noticing that it was verbatim company policy, getting your IP pulled from the forum logs and sent to your company to see if it matched any of their employees. Your company most likely bent over backwards to provide any help they could as your actions would most likely have fallen under a clause that would allow the client to terminate their contract. While you attempted to muddy your trail, it wouldn't be very difficult to track.
    Syrdon wrote: »

    I'm going to have to strongly disagree with this statement. No employer ever has the right to ask or require that you do anything you consider unethical. "I was just following orders" is never an excuse for unethical conduct. Ever.

    You are confusing unethical with illegal.

    Newblar on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • ElJeffeElJeffe Moderator, ClubPA mod
    edited March 2011
    Newblar wrote: »
    Syrdon wrote: »

    I'm going to have to strongly disagree with this statement. No employer ever has the right to ask or require that you do anything you consider unethical. "I was just following orders" is never an excuse for unethical conduct. Ever.

    You are confusing unethical with illegal.

    Well, an employer does have the legal right to ask you to do unethical things. But it's true that "I was following orders" is no excuse for unethical behavior. If you're asked to do something unethical, don't do it, with the understanding that you may be fired as a result.

    ElJeffe on
    Maddie: "I named my feet. The left one is flip and the right one is flop. Oh, and also I named my flip-flops."

    I make tweet.
  • MrMisterMrMister A pup must first get in the water to be successful as a seal!Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    I'm not necessarily saying he did something wrong.

    I'm saying he did something stupid.

    Sure. It's just important to keep clear on the difference between prudence and ethics.

    MrMister on
2»
Sign In or Register to comment.