a Co-Worker’s Personal discussions
Do You report a Co-Worker’s Personal discussions? You had worked at Galesburg Data for almost six years without anything like this happening. It struck you as very
odd. Your supervisor had talked to four other workers from your area in the past two days, all very hush-hush. The supervisor had never called you in for a “heart-to-
heart talk” before, but today that changed. As you left your supervisor’s office, you wondered why she had asked you whether you discuss work-related problems with
anyone. What is going on? Why did she ask you about your knowledge of what the other people in your area were working on? The supervisor had never raised such
questions before. And then she rambled on about company loyalty for almost ten minutes. It just seemed weird. Sitting at your desk near the supervisor’s office, you
kept thinking about events during the past month or so. It was pretty obvious something was going wrong. Then there were all those interviews and questions. Company
loyalty? Was someone quitting, taking their knowledge of trade secrets with them?
That’s it! That’s what it’s all about—the new project, Plusdata’s newly announced retrieval system. It all fit. Someone had leaked information. Just as you reached
that conclusion, you saw Marcy Patton going into the supervisor’s office. Something clicked. You recalled a lunch you had with Marcy and her husband about three months
ago. At the time, Marcy went on and on about the developments in her work on Galesburg’s new retrieval system. She kept asking you about your role in the project, too.
You recalled nothing out of the ordinary, just the usual “shop talk.” But her husband, Terry, was there, and you now realize that she had told you he worked for
Plusdata. Other conversations run through your mind, and you remember at least three other times that Marcy talked about confidential information in front of her
husband. None of it was anything more than harmless talk between co-workers, and she probably wasn’t even aware of doing it. But there was no denying that Terry was
there, and probably heard more than he should have. Did Marcy talk to Terry about work-related things when they were alone? How much detail might she have given him?
You can’t imagine her “selling out” Galesburg, and Tony doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who would try to steal trade secrets from his own wife. But it still seems to
fit. Should you tell the supervisor about your suspicions? Is there enough evidence? All you have are impressions and unreliable memories of casual conversations.
Suppose you’re wrong about what’s going on? Suppose you’re right about the problem, but wrong about Marcy? Won’t this hurt her both professionally and personally? How
much do you owe Galesburg or your supervisor? How much do you owe Marcy, your colleague and friend? Perhaps it’s best to let the supervisor do the digging and to stay
out of it altogether. You are just not sure. To make a decision, you should analyze the issue until it is RESOLVEDD.
Pfeiffer, Raymond S.; Forsberg, Ralph P.. Ethics on the Job: Cases and Strategies (Page 93). Cengage Textbook. Kindle Edition.