Landing : Athabascau University

Week 1 Consideration Scenerio


You are an IT professional who has broad access to corporate documents, and it transpires that some of the documents you read show that the company you work for is violating government regulations or laws. Do you have a moral obligation to turn them in, or are you ethically bound to respect your employer's privacy? Would it make a difference if you signed a nondisclosure agreement when you accepted the job?



In this case, the most important thing is to understand the law governing the country where you work. As the scenario stated, a crime is being committed, the ethical thing to do will be reporting to the appropriate authorities. It would be a different matter altogether if a crime is not being explicitly committed but rather, actions that can be deemed inappropriate are being conducted by the employer. For example employees are being treated unfairly with unconducive work environments. This may not necessarily be a crime (depending on the country). Non- criminal ethical violations cannot in most cases be taken to court. They would most likely be resolved by employee unions, worker’s associations or some sort of advocacy group.


Regardless of if a nondisclosure agreement is signed or not, all witnessed crimes should be reported. Nondisclosure agreements are intended to protect trade secrets and confidential information. They are in no way designed to cover up crimes. Some non-disclosure agreements emphasize this by including statements such as “this utilization complies with applicable law”. This in other words, means no crime is being committed in the course of conducting business using trade secrets. Many governments such as the US government offer protection from prosecution to employees who report criminal\severely inappropriate employer behavior.


It should be noted that the moral dilemma will be a personal one ,and that is, if an individual will be willing to lose their job and possible spend the next couple of years testifying in court and attending legal proceedings. It is not an easy feat to go against an organization especially larger firms who possibly have legal teams at their disposal. It is important to have backing evidence to support your claims, otherwise the organization goes scot-free, quickly covering their tracks and the whole ethical purpose is defeated. 


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