XYZ Corporation permits its employees to borrow company tools. Engineer
Al House took full advantage of this privilege. He went one step further and ordered tools
for his unit that would be useful for his home building projects even though they were of
no significant use to his unit at XYZ. Engineer Michael Green had suspected for some time
that Al was ordering tools for personal rather than company use, but he had no unambiguous
evidence until he overheard a revealing conversation between Al and Bob Deal, a contract
salesman from whom Al frequently purchased tools.
Michael was reluctant to directly confront Al. They had never gotten
along well, and Al was a senior engineer who wielded a great deal of power over Michael in
their unit. Michael was also reluctant to discuss the matter with the chief engineer of
their unit, in whom he had little confidence or trust.
Eventually Michael decided to talk with the Contract Procurement Agent,
whose immediate response was, "This really stinks." The Contract Procurement
Agent agreed not to reveal that Michael had talked with him. He then called the chief
engineer, indicating only that a reliable source had informed him about Al House's
inappropriate purchases. In turn, the chief engineer confronted Al. Finally, Al House
directly confronted each of the engineers in his unit he thought might have
"ratted" on him. When Al questioned Michael, Michael denied any knowledge of
what took place.
Later Michael explained to his wife, "I was forced to lie. I told
Al, 'I don't know anything about this'."
Discuss the ethical issues this case raises.