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Unethical requests from supervisors

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A recent TechRepublic poll found that a majority of members had been asked to do something unethical by their supervisor. What about you? If you have been asked to do something you thought was unethical, tell us about it. What was the request, and what did you do about it? What CAN you do? Are you darned if you do, and darned if you don't?

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Grey area

by LordInfidel In reply to Unethical requests from s ...

There is a grey area in the realm of the unethical. Each person will need to define what that grey area is.

When I know that something is unethical, I will always state my case as to why it is so. Depending on the severity will depend on if I will do it or not.

If your supervisor is asking you to do something that is clearly a violation of corporate policy or the law, you do not have to do it.

If it is a grey area, then you will need to figure out what will happen if the chips go down. Can you state that you were just following orders or can you be severly implicated in improper conduct.

Whenever I have been asked before to do unethical things(not by my supervisor), like hack into netwks, read e-mails, give access, etc, I will state that it is a security violation and I will not do it.

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Less grey as time goes on

by James R Linn In reply to Grey area

I'll admit that when I started my career fresh out of university, I learned of an accounting practise at my first employer which was not GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles) which was done to show a more stable revenue growth. I did play a part in gathering information, but didn't committ the deed - though the senior management up to the president were well aware of it. As a privately held company the people being fooled were the owners.

What was happening had to do with consistency in revenue recognition. In other words, when it was a good month, some sales were not recognised to boost the next month, whereas if it was a poor month, some sales were brought forward, even though technically they shouldn't have been.

Since then I have worked for "better" companies and never had the issue come up. Having worked with auditors, both internal and external, and quite closely with senior management in large companies, I would be much more careful about doing it, as I better understand the consequences.


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Long Term

by admin In reply to Unethical requests from s ...

You can't trust someone that is willing to do the unethical, and in our business trust is a HUGE part of why people keep us there in the long run. Once a network admin breaks trust, even for their company, they are always suspect even if they're notreading the companies e-mail. Someone may praise you in the short term, but in the long term you will be known as not trustworthy and therefore not suitable for top networking positions.

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Caught between a rock and a hard place

by LittleDragon In reply to Long Term

The most unethical company I worked for was in violation of banking regulations regarding staffing levels in a mainframe data center. The operators were scheduled to work 12 hours shifts alone, and then told that it was corporate policy that we hadto take a 30 minute lunch break AWAY from the computer room. Since we couldn't eat in the computer room, and to meet corporate policy, we had to leave the computer room unattended for 30 mintues every day, in direct violation of the banking rules.

So when faced with such a choice, break banking regulations or corporate policy, what can you do? I wanted very much to report the management to the auditors, but also desparately needed the job. My compromise was to get an email from my manager saying that operators would not be held accountable for anything that happened in the computer room during lunch break, but I don't think that would have held up in court. What would you have done?

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That does sound difficult

by admin In reply to Caught between a rock and ...

To me it sounds like you handled it well. You brought it to the attention of your supervisor and got it in writing. I don't really know much about banking law, but generally I would try to effect change within. You have done this step by making people aware. It also sounds like you also found a new job whare I assume you are more comfortable. This would be my other suggestion, especially if you know your company is choosing to be unethical. They probably won't be treating their employees ethically as well in time.

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It's all a game of protection

by mjitconsulting In reply to Unethical requests from s ...

Our superior's job security is as important to them as it is to us, ergo- damned if you damned if you don't. So we do. There appears to be no loyalty at any level of the IT world. Very dog eat dog. I know I was victimized once and I will never let it happen again. If my boss wants me to get intelligence on my colleagues he can do it himself. It sucked to be used!

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Cover your *** is the name of the game

by usaatca2001 In reply to It's all a game of protec ...

I had a new job several years ago where the Exec. VP (my boss's boss) asked me to look into the relationship between my boss & a vendor he was using that happened to be a friend of his. At first, I didn't think anything funny was going on, but as time went on I did. Of course, since my boss knew what I was doing, it strained our relationship. When I brought my concerns to the VP, he said that only he could fire me since he had hired me. Can you guess the ending? A few weeks later I was fired bymy boss. You're so right. Let them do their own spying.

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You did the right thing

by James R Linn In reply to Cover your ass is the nam ...

and it cost you, but doing the wrong thing would have cost you your integrity, which is more valuable than any job.


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Another Voice Heard...

by nonsequitr In reply to Unethical requests from s ...

I am an attorney and was once asked by my CEO to figure out a way to make an illegal termination legal.

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Another illegal termination story

by recoverer In reply to Another Voice Heard...

My boss asked me to 'watch for noncompliant behavior' of one of my team members. Since she was an excellent programmer who consistently did good work, this puzzled me - until he explained that 'those people' cause trouble. It turned out that 'those people' can be identified by skin color.
I went straight to HR and said I refused to be a party to harrassment. Both the team member & I were transferred. And the boss got moved to a 'consulting' role.

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