Place yourself in Hamilton Wong’s position. Would you report all of your time worked on the Willie & Lomax audit? Why or why not? Do you believe that Lauren Hutchinson behaved unethically by underreporting the time she worked on that engagement? Defend your answer.
Hamilton Wong is currently in a very delicate situation and has an ethical dilemma in front of him. Using the steps to resolving ethical dilemmas, Wong must obtain the relevant facts, identify the ethical issues from the facts, determine who is affected, identify the alternatives available to him, identify the likely consequences of each alternative and decide the appropriate actions.
The relevant facts are pretty blatant. The Willie & Lomax audit was the second biggest client for his firm and it was currently running behind schedule. The team was running out of time to complete the audit. Wong wasn’t the only in-charge accountant and his counterpart, Lauren Hutchinson, had been working on different parts of the balance and the audit since January. Wong was currently trebled with the fact that Hutchinson appeared to be shaving hours off of her reported hours worked on the audit. The largest amount of hours that seemed to go unreported occurred when she took memos home and completed them without accounting for the hours they took. Wong estimated that Hutchinson had failed to report at least eighty hours that she had worked on the audit.
The key ethical dilemma revolved around the unaccounted hours. While “eating time” may be illegal, it is often encouraged in auditing firms as a way of showing efficiency and making estimate hours look accurate. Eating hours may help maintain the illusion of efficiency and while it was a taboo subject among auditors it seemed to have a place at Wong’s firm. Wong was convinced that many audit partners and audit managers subtly encouraged subordinates to underreport their time, which not only allowed the managers and partners to appear competent at managing