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Ethics Class - Worker Steals $20k #410694 03/01/11 01:32 AM
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Lisa Shea Online Content OP
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I am now in "part 2" of my winter term which is statistics 2 and an ethics class. The statistics class is completely insane so I won't talk about that one smile But the ethics class is fascinating!

Here was our first week's conversation.

You own a company. A good friend of yours has been doing your accounting for four years. She has a sick child and you routinely give her money out of your own pocket to help out. Then you discover she's stolen $20k from your business accounts, presumably to help pay her sick child's costs.

What do you do?


Lisa Shea, Owner
Re: Ethics Class - Worker Steals $20k [Re: Lisa Shea] #410729 03/01/11 03:37 PM
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Talk to her about it.

Ethically, is it more important to be honest with your friend's cash or to save your child's life??

No contest!

You have to protect your child ~ at all costs.


"The secret of success is constancy to purpose" - Benjamin Disraeli.
Re: Ethics Class - Worker Steals $20k [Re: Lisa Shea] #410767 03/02/11 12:41 AM
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Me personally I would not take any direct action except to confront the friend and ask for repayment once the child is well. Our Lord and Lady I hope the IRS does not do an audit.

My Uncle was a pro controller and auditor for the Government. YOU ALL WOULD NOT BELIEVE HOW COMMON THIS SORT OF THING IS. He finally quit after twenty years, two heart bypasses, and a stomach full of ulcers.


"Nowadays, people know the price of everything, and the value of nothing." - Oscar Wilde
Re: Ethics Class - Worker Steals $20k [Re: Lisa Shea] #410883 03/02/11 10:45 PM
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It turns out this ethics class has several members who become very emotionally invested in the topics - so instead of talking about them theoretically they get wound up emotionally and upset if someone takes a different point of view to the issue. Normally I adore this kind of conversation but I'm finding it exhausting dealing with the emotions. I like discussing ethics issues for the fun of examining them. Some of the students seem to take the discussions very personally.

So for example if someone said they would fire the woman, others get extremely upset by the idea.

What the person in the real life example in the book did was to fire her and ask her to repay half of the money as a long term loan.

I'll comment that the owner would have gladly given her more money if she'd just asked for it. She chose not to ask - she chose to steal it instead. Also there was no sense that she tried to set up charity fundraisers or do any other legitimate money-receiving activities.


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Re: Ethics Class - Worker Steals $20k [Re: Lisa Shea] #410884 03/02/11 10:48 PM
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Mongrel -

Some people in this class feel that theft is extremely rare and that these cases we're reading about in the ethics class are made up and could never happen. I get the sense that some of the class members are not aware of some of the actual industry rates of theft. Do you have any general stories you could share with me about what your uncle saw, for me to help illustrate to them that this is not an uncommon thing? It might help them to understand the context of the issue.

For example they feel that hardly anyone ever steals from a company - that it's very rare for a company to have to worry about theft. I worked for a company that specialized in tracking down instances of theft in cash register receipts and they would find theft at least weekly in most stores. (i.e. they'd run reports on the cash register records and look for questionable combinations of entries, double voids, that sort of thing).

Lisa


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Re: Ethics Class - Worker Steals $20k [Re: Lisa Shea] #411040 03/04/11 06:39 AM
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Are these people very young, or just naive?


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Re: Ethics Class - Worker Steals $20k [Re: Lisa Shea] #411063 03/04/11 08:47 PM
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Jill -

I've been pondering that myself. I know one student is 23 so it could be she's just never been in a store environment to see what fellow workers do and discuss. Maybe she's only going by her shopping experiences and because she's never seen a thief she thinks they don't exist.

Another student though is in her 40s and she seems just as adamant on some of these points. She works from home so maybe again it could be that while she's older, she doesn't have any awareness of these issues.

So it could be like - and here I go with metaphors which is a habit I find hard to break - but like knowing there are house thieves out there but because nobody has ever broken into YOUR house it seems almost an imaginary threat to you. Like "maybe it does happen to someone somewhere but it has to be incredibly rare because I've never seen it."


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Re: Ethics Class - Worker Steals $20k [Re: Lisa Shea] #414853 05/02/11 08:46 PM
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I am sorry for just now seeing this post. I don't know if it is relevant now but I can tell you what I know.

My Uncle never talked much about his work except when he had a few beers and then he would flow like a fountain. When I was about fifteen we were at a family affair and both of us were bored to death as usual(tired of playing horse shoes). So he told me about this mining company accountant that awarded three contracts to the highest bidders on the jobs. This was the first alarm that set the auditors off on his trail. With a federal marshal present my Uncle and two of his assistants started asking the guy why he awarded the job to these contractors? He said that the fellow had no good answers so they filed for a warrant to get access to his bank accounts and the contractors records. It turns out that the job was completed for half of the bid price (60K/120K) and the accountant was given a brown bag of cash (10K)for his cooperation.

That is how it works in big business. Snuffing dollar bills from the cash register is really small time.


"Nowadays, people know the price of everything, and the value of nothing." - Oscar Wilde
Re: Ethics Class - Worker Steals $20k [Re: Lisa Shea] #414884 05/03/11 04:00 AM
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In tests that companies give to determine honesty, there are a number of signals that a person is suspicious. Just like (in my opinion) a person who talks like he/she has no prejudice may just be fooling him- or herself, so a person who claims to never have taken so much as a paper clip from work is probably either telling an untruth, or is so rigid that he or she is at risk of going astray.

I don't doubt that there is all kinds of dishonesty - for big bucks - throughout all kinds of life's interactions. But that doesn't mean that it is right.

I agree that a child sick is a powerful motivation to do whatever one can. Yet, there are ways that don't involve dishonesty and/or crime.


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Re: Ethics Class - Worker Steals $20k [Re: Carl] #414894 05/03/11 12:45 PM
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Originally Posted By: Carl
... I agree that a child sick is a powerful motivation to do whatever one can. Yet, there are ways that don't involve dishonesty and/or crime.


Yes, there are, but maybe, in that situation, one doesn't think about them.


"The secret of success is constancy to purpose" - Benjamin Disraeli.
Re: Ethics Class - Worker Steals $20k [Re: Carl] #414895 05/03/11 12:52 PM
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Originally Posted By: Carl
In tests that companies give to determine honesty, there are a number of signals that a person is suspicious ....

Yes, I think that you can have a gut instinct, backed up by checks.

I used to work in a place, where I was one of a team granting large loans. I followed the usual checks, each time, and then, if all was well, I signed the application.

Twice I refused to sign. The bosses were not happy. I said that, if they wanted the loans to go through, then they would have to sign the applications themselves, because they just did not feel right to me. They did, the loans went through ~ and neither of those two men ever paid back a single penny.

I would phone them up and hear them saying that they were out ~ or just laughing at us.

I am so glad that it wasn't me who signed ~ I would probably have been sacked smile


"The secret of success is constancy to purpose" - Benjamin Disraeli.
Re: Ethics Class - Worker Steals $20k [Re: Lisa Shea] #415841 06/13/11 03:15 AM
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They should have listened to you, PDM!


Marge is the love of my life.
Re: Ethics Class - Worker Steals $20k [Re: Lisa Shea] #415846 06/13/11 01:02 PM
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smile


"The secret of success is constancy to purpose" - Benjamin Disraeli.
Re: Ethics Class - Worker Steals $20k [Re: Lisa Shea] #417626 09/06/11 01:21 AM
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charge her stealing your money..

Re: Ethics Class - Worker Steals $20k [Re: Lisa Shea] #420053 11/13/11 07:11 AM
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Lisa Shea Online Content OP
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I think life has a sense of karma to it, that the way we treat others is the way we end up getting treated ourselves. So if we try to treat others as fairly as we can, then we ourselves get treated fairly.

PDM - your following of the proper rules sounds like the wisest thing you could have done. If only the others were just as wise!


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