Answered Essay: A questionable expense using taxpayer money was revealed in the July financial reports of the

A questionable expense using taxpayer money was revealed in the July financial reports of the Lake County Solid Waste Management District. The Waste District Director defended a listed charge (made in May) for a $751 briefcase he gave as a graduation gift to a Waste District employee. He called the briefcase an important showing of gratitude and a morale booster for the employee. The employee had recently completed her master’s degree. In August, the local newspaper requested and obtained a copy of the itemized receipt from the credit card assigned to the Waste District Director. According to the receipt, the Director had actually purchased a sapphire blue designer handbag, and three matching purse accessories totaling $751 (not a briefcase as he previously had stated). On the same day the newspaper had requested the itemized store receipt from the District credit card purchase, the Director wrote a check reimbursing the Waste Management District. After writing the check, he said it was no longer anyone’s business what he purchased. “I have written a check to the District to pay for this item.” The Director said he was just trying to recognize the achievements of a hard worker when he purchased the luxury purse and related items on the District credit card. He said what has ensued is an unfair “witch hunt.”

Apply the IRAC case study method (see below) to the above summary from recent newspaper articles.

IRAC (pronounced EYE-rack) is a case study method. IRAC is an acronym meaning: Issue, Rule, Application and Conclusion.

1. Issue

a. What is in the stated facts of the case that raises ethical concerns for the parties involved?

b. Identify the ethical issue(s) or ethical question(s) involved in the above case: state the issue as a question (a question of ethics)

 For example (For example and the examples below do not need to be restated) o Whether accepting a gift in exchange for a vote is ethical? o Whether accepting money in exchange for a favor is ethical? o Whether a supervisor’s decision to promote an employee with who the supervisor has a romantic involvement with is ethical? o Whether a company that dumps toxic chemicals into the river to lower production costs and save jobs is ethical? o Whether a supervisor who gives a poor performing employee a high evaluation to avoid hurting the employee’s feelings is ethical?

2. Rule

a. State an ethical rule or approach for analyzing the above case (the ethical rule can be either the Consequentialist, Deontological or Virtual Ethics approach discussed in Chapter 2).

3. Application

a. Using the facts of the case, analyze and apply the ethical rule (from #2) to the issue(s) (using at least 50 words).

4. Conclusion

a. After analyzing the Issue(s), Rule, and Application, explain (using at least 50 words) whether ethics or the ethical rule/approach has been violated and state why? b. What remedies or corrective actions should be taken to resolve the case and state why (using at least 50 words)?

Expert Answer

Answer

Issue

The Director purchases a designer bag and related accessories in the month of May. using the credit card assigned to him by the Waste Management District. He states it to be a briefcase and doesn’t disclose that it is actually a designers bag. The newspaper investigation happens in the month of August. Just when the purchased items were made clear by the credit card company to the newspaper, the Director writes a check to the Waste Management District i.e. he decides to pay the entire amount of $751 from his personal account.

The ethical question that should be discussed here is whether the Director was just in a) rewarding his employee in order to motivate and b) misappropriating the item of reward (i.e. from designer bag to suitcase). Both the issues should be separately discussed using the ethical principles.

Rule

We choose the Deontological rule to apply in this case. Deontology was developed by Immanuel Kant. The basic premise of this rule is that the morality of an action cannot be decided on the basis of its consequence because consequences are subject to qualification – the only thing which is not subject to qualification in the ‘good human will/ intent’ while performing the activity. So, if the intent behind the activity is just, the activity is moral. Whether the intent is just or not will depend on the categorical imperatives defined by Kant who states that “…act only according to that maxim by which you can, at the same time, will that it be a universal law.” The moral duties, in fact, are translated from these categorical imperatives.

Application

In this case, the Director first buys a designer bag and misappropriate that a briefcase. Had his intent being only to motivate the employee, he would not have hidden the items he purchased. Furthermore, he writes a check to the waste management district only after the investigation started and not at the time of purchase itself. From the categorical imperatives of Kant, it is clear that these types of activities cannot be treated as a maxim i.e. it cannot be performed as a universal principle or gold standard of moral duty.

Conclusion

We, therefore, conclude that the action from the Director that to motivate the employee with such expensive item and to misappropriate the gift items itself is not ethical according to the Deontological principle because they have not generated from the universal moral duty principle basing over good human will. Motivating an employee is one of such universal principle but the means taken for that cannot be supported as it violates the duties for other stakeholders including the taxpayers. A rational choice over categorical imperative thus does not match with what has been done by the Director.

The rectification or correction is perhaps to design a robust system and policy of employee motivation and getting that policy approved by the board of directors and the board legally represents the stakeholders. The policy should be a rational choice made by the organizational philosophy and the prevailing market trends for granting gifts to employee motivation. Then if a Director decides to award a gift to his employee, it can be supported by the categorical imperative of Kant as it will be close to a universal law – the maxim.

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