Anonymous Industrial Engineering Ethics Cases 189
case. But then I could be blackballed from my industry. In the end, I took a
severance package and resigned. After I left, I fell into a deep depression
for 2 years.
As a footnote, less than a year later, the same upper management was
fired and had charges brought against them. The charges were for similar
improprieties, resulting from their dealing with a couple of other departments
in the medical center.
LOOKING BACK, WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE DONE
DIFFERENTLY
?
I performed my job well, under the circumstances I was given.There was
nothing else I could do, unless I contacted the local newspaper or possibly
another organization (JCAHO, Food and Drug Administration).
WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW?
I had been teaching an undergraduate class part-time even before my
resignation, and continued teaching this class. During my depression,
I interviewed for hospital jobs, but never accepted the job offers I
received. I was so disgusted with my field that after 2 years, I became a
full-time professor in electrical engineering. I will never work in a hospital
again.
CASE 2: MECHANICAL ENGINEER
Ethics Dilemma Scorecard
Public Safety & Welfare
Data Integrity & Representation
Trade Secrets & Industrial Espionage
Gift Giving & Bribery
Principle of Informed Consent
Conflict of Interest
Accountability to Clients & Customers
Fair Treatment
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190 Engineering Ethics: An Industrial Perspective
TELL US YOUR STORY
It was Monday morning and many of my co-workers were busy grab-
bing their first cups of coffee and trading tales of their weekend exploits.
The stories were never shocking or out of the ordinary because we are
all engineers. But that Monday was a bit different. In the distance as
I approached my desk there was a group in a manager’s office having a
really great time. They looked like a bunch of happy kids at
Christmastime opening their “unexpected” gifts. As I joined the group
my curiosity turned to bewilderment. Here were five or six engineers
staring down at a manager’s desk covered with what looked like wrin-
kled engineering notepad paper. It was the typical graph paper used by
engineers everywhere, and there were notes, sketches, and calculations
on the various formerly crumpled papers.
Although they looked like happy kids, what they were playing was
anything but a kid’s game. They were poring over someone else’s work.
A competitor’s work at that! No permission was asked for and no per-
mission was given to view this information. It was taken without the
knowledge of our competitor. I’d heard that companies often pay some-
one to “dive” into a competitor’s Dumpster in search of secrets, but
I never ever thought I’d be witnessing it firsthand. Two thoughts immedi-
ately came to my mind. This was wrong, very wrong. What if someone
such as the president of our company would walk by and catch all of us
looking this stuff over? Probably grounds for dismissal, I was sure. But to
my surprise, the president of the company was right in the middle of the
group, congratulating the manager for his dedication.
I had difficulty hiding my distaste and disgust for the whole sorry
situation and had to leave the manager’s office quickly. Our company
had committed an act of a common criminal in my opinion; never mind
that Dumpster diving can be legal. The Dumpster-diving manager was
proud of his take, and was actually being congratulated by the company
president!
LOOKING BACK, WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE DONE
DIFFERENTLY
?
Because this behavior was accepted by the company president, there
was nothing I could have done. I said nothing then, and would still do the
same.
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