Importance of Ethics in the Workplace

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Enron, Tyco, Krispy Kreme, and even Martha Stewart have had their share of ethical dilemmas and troubles. With the seemingly downward spiral of ethics in the United States, many people have begun to re-evaluate the definition and limitations of ethics, especially within the workplace. Stories of ethical problems and ethics surround people in everyday situations. Here, we will examine two case studies one of which is a story of wrongful conduct and the other is a story of serving best interest. In today's society, everyone is entitled to a rags-to-riches story and wealth beyond their wildest dreams, but is it worth the cost of overlooking and ignoring the importance of ethics? Two popular unethical practices in today's workplace involve fraud and deceit. According to the Miniature Guide to Understanding the Foundations of Ethical Reasoning, "The proper role of ethical reasoning is to highlight acts of two kinds: Those which enhance the well-being of others—that warrant our praise—and those that harm or diminish the well-being of others—and thus warrant our criticism." It goes on to say, "For any action to be unethical, it must inherently deny another person or creature some inalienable right." It refers to fraud and deceit as being unethical in-and-of themselves and defines each; "Fraud: The intentional deception that causes someone to give up property or some right." "Deceit: Representing something as true which one knows to be false in order to gain a selfish end harmful to another." (Paul & Elder 2003) Monica's first job after transferring to Charleston, South Carolina was with a mortgage company. After four separate interviews over a period of four weeks, she believed this company was a reputable company to work for considering its extensive interviewing process. Monica started training as a loan processor not long after she started with the company. The training experience was very in-depth but mostly "hands-on". As she trained with each of the six processors with the company, she quickly realized that each person had a different procedure he or she followed for processing mortgage loans. After three months of training, Monica began to pick up the procedures and began working on her own, processing loans for a team of twenty loan officers and two team managers. For the first three months, as Monica was consumed in training, she never noticed any unethical, deceitful or fraudulent behavior from anyone. Once she began working on her own, she realized this unethical behavior had been present since her first day of training. Monica, being a loan processor, was responsible for the specific loan from application to closing. The loan officer was responsible for taking the application and pulling a credit report. From there, the processor would make sure that the loan was closed in a timely manner "by doing whatever it took". On numerous occasions, there were mortgagors that could not qualify for mortgage loans on their own. Monica's direct supervisor would alter various file information to make it look as though the mortgagor was a perfect candidate for a specific loan program. The information that was altered included: income documents such as W-2's, pay stubs, verification of employment, verification of deposit and source of funds, death certificates, etc. Monica's manager would do anything to earn the commission from a loan by altering any bit of information needed to complete the transaction. On one occasion, Monica's manager handed her a White-Out correction tape and a payment history and instructed her to "fix it the BEST way that you know how". Monica then stacked the file together and submitted it to the Lender with a payment history reflecting the correct information; twice 30 days late and once 90 days late. This information would have been enough to disqualify the mortgagor or qualify them for a high risk, high interest rate loan. Two days after submission, Monica's manager came to her and...
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