Martha McCaskey Case Study
At issue in the Martha McCaskey case is a question of proprietary information. More specifically, McCaskey is faced with the question of what constitutes proprietary information and what is safe to give to the client without breaching any trade secrets. According to DeGeorge, proprietary information, or trade secrets, are a right of each corporation that they can legally and morally protect and refuse to divulge to the public. The types of information that Seleris' client is asking for about their target company are held tightly by the target to ensure their market share. If the information is given to competitors, they will lose their advantage. However, if specific information as to the new chip is not released but instead is based on industry standards and already publicly-held information, the trade secrets would still be upheld, as there is no way to know for sure that the target is using exactly what has been found.
Another issue that McCaskey faces is the methods used to obtain the information to be given to the client. As mentioned above, if it comes directly from the target, it would be releasing trade secrets and infringing on the target's right to hold those. In this case, McCaskey has been asked to not contact the target in order to keep them from knowing that the client is looking into the new chip. In order to get the specific information that they are after, McCaskey will have to use alternative means such as contacting other competitors in the industry, vendors of the target, and possibly ex-employees of the target. Hackert and Malone are pushing for McCaskey to use Phil Devon after learning that he worked for the target in the past. Devon seems open to supplying McCaskey with any information that she needs, but she may be breaching the target's right to trade secrets by doing so. If he has stayed in the loop with the target and has direct knowledge of the new chip and the procedures being used there, she would ultimately be passing on information that the client has no right to. However, there is a chance that he has no direct knowledge of the new chip and would only be giving her information that he has obtained in helping other clients out. Even that could be breaching areas of confidentiality though, as she would not know if the other companies held that information closely so the possibility of breaching other trade secrets is unknown.
Also at issue is management encouraging what could be seen as unethical methods to complete the projects. As discussed in the Don Taylor case, management has a duty to operate the company as ethically as possible. By encouraging these unethical activities to McCaskey, Malone and Hackert are saying that they are supportive of using unethical methods in order to further IAD and Seleris, as well as their clients. The case material discussed that IAD did not have any written policies in place in regards to solicitation and acceptable methods to complete contracts. Richardson would occasionally hold lunch meetings in which he would state that no one should use unethical behaviors, but remained vague in just what that meant. DeGeorge notes that a business has the duty to give clear policies to its employees in order for them to complete their jobs accurately and as desired. Employees also cannot be required to act unethically on the job. Malone and Hackert are impeding McCaskey's responsibility to complete her job ethically by encouraging her to use Devon no matter what the cost.
Another issue that should be noted is the personal issue that McCaskey has in deciding between staying silent on the matter and completing her job as requested, or in voicing her concerns. In the “Conflict on a Trading Floor” case and the Don Taylor case, it was noted that it is our duty to report any unethical proceedings in the work place. However, DeGeorge notes that employees do...
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