Incompetent or Unethical?

Shawnee Love   •  
June 15, 2012

What would you choose:

Incompetent or Unethical?

Not great options in my opinion but my experience says that people will choose to be incompetent rather than have their morals come under the gun.  Here’s an example:

Recently, someone told me a story about an employee who was in their opinion, unfairly fired. If the details provided me are true, a cashier with 11 years of good performance was asked by her boss to swipe his points card anytime a customer didn’t have one. Somehow or other, the practice came to the notice of the powers-that-be who investigated and promptly fired both the boss and the employee who was doing the swiping.

The employee claims she was just doing what her boss told her to do and didn’t know it was wrong, but that is what most people say when caught doing something inappropriate.

Few people ever own up to assuming:

  • They could get away with “it”,
  • “It” wasn’t hurting anyone or
  • “It” isn’t illegal.

The truth is the perceptions of what is or isn’t ethical in the workplace are as varied as the individuals holding the opinions. Case in point, I have chatted with a bunch of people about this situation and have complete disagreement on whether or not the employee should have been let go as well.

Frankly, I am firmly in the “Yes” camp. Whether poor ethics or incompetence caused her behaviour, either is a good reason to fire in my book.  I know that the employee’s behaviour probably wouldn’t qualify for just cause and thus severance would be required. However, I think severance is a small price to pay to get rid of stupidity, apathy, or dishonesty.

That’s just me, and I have been told I am a hard ass.  What say you?