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Ethics - Moral law vs. Criminal law

R

Randy Stewart

#91
I would love to see how many of the recalls were manufactured in the US.
I read a report on NUMMI, back in the mid '90's, and the problems the bosses had with US workers trying to fit into the Toyota production system. It was similar to the square peg and round whole example.
 
#92
So, today I came across a thread in the Members Only ASQ Forums from a person originally from an eastern nation who spent a large portion of life in a western nation, becoming a member of several ASQ Sections.

Subsequently, this person has returned back to the eastern nation, working in Quality in a medical device manufacturing plant. The three posts in the thread are aggregated here for clarity. I omitted responses from other ASQ members, including my own.

The entire thread is located at
http://www.asq.org/discussionBoards/thread.jspa?threadID=5961
Work Ethic
Posted: Nov 27, 2007 7:38 PM

I feel quite unmotivated.
I believe that Quality exists for superior products that is user friendly but I have been ordered to not focus on whether the materials are medical grade or not. Basically as long as it functions...so I should fake the documents, and COA...I tried to argue but he said that we need output capacity, we are sending it to a third world country and it's not that important as long as it works.
I would like some input on this...it's ethically wrong but is it practiced in other parts of the world? Would the products be ok if we don't use medical grade?
Any information will be good, because I have to determine how much effort I have to put in to fight this battle...it is very tiring debate and I am always accused of not allowing the company to make money. Which is not true...

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Re: Work Ethic
Posted: Nov 28, 2007 6:18 PM


Thank you everyone for your input...
I am in a very odd position.

What I mean by faking is...for e.g:
Over here, majority do not know what validations are...to be identified as being medical grade one of the key processes is validation...and some companies will pay the supplier money to ask for a COA that states it even if its not.

It gets really tiring...also I am female in a very patriarchal society so that doesn't help either, but I love my job and I can't change my nationality.

Once I was in Philosophy class way back when I was in college, actually I took business ethics class, and the first thing the teacher asked was "Is there such thing as Business Ethic" and I firmly said with confidence "yes" and everyone laughed at me. I didn't get it then but I see why now...every single day is a battle between money and ethics.

Thanks again guys [smiley]

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Re: Work Ethic
Posted: Nov 29, 2007 7:39 PM

The country I am at, almost everyone "fake" it somehow.

I will just have to figure out how to do the right thing and still satisfy regulations. Kind of like work with my environment to get to my goal rather than spend so much time trying to change my environment. Maybe change will come soon, even the US the concept of Quality started picking rhythm in 1940s...or is it 1920s...from deming and Japan...(I am bad with dates).

I wish I could leave this job, but I can't.
Thanks everyone for your input and camaraderie.
[I presume "COA" means "Certificate of Analysis"]
Now here is someone who is apparently between a rock and a hard place. I know which country she is in, but it does not make much difference to the dilemma she faces. She doesn't disclose the country in her thread, so neither will we. She uses a pseudonym, so we won't identify her real name to protect her.

Questions:
  1. How can she protect herself from being the "patsy" or scapegoat if the feces hits the fan down the road?
  2. Is there anything she can do from a low status position to "make the case for quality" to enlighten the powers that be to change their ways?
  3. Are you convinced the situation she describes is actually [pick one or more] illegal, immoral, or unethical? Why?
 
C

Craig H.

#93
Questions:
  1. How can she protect herself from being the "patsy" or scapegoat if the feces hits the fan down the road?
  2. Is there anything she can do from a low status position to "make the case for quality" to enlighten the powers that be to change their ways?
  3. Are you convinced the situation she describes is actually [pick one or more] illegal, immoral, or unethical? Why?
1. She cannot.
2. She can try to make a case that describes the cost of lawsuits, etc. that would result from failures. Since we do not know exactly where the company is located, the legal (lawsuit) system may make such a case questionable at best. The corporate structure may be set up such that "cut and run" is a viable alternative.
3. Illegal? See 2 above. Immoral? She apparently thinks so. Our appraisal at this point on her ethics in this case is immaterial, as it is on question 2. Personally, frankly, it sucks.

At this point I think she has a responsability to assess the situation to determine if she can change the culture of the organization. If not then it is time to beat a hasty retreat. With a nasty letter explaining why.

That said, there is a more complicated question that I hesitate to advance. Is the use of questionable medical devices a better alternative to no devices at all in the less developed parts of the world?

At this point, for the situation in question, I think this last query seems to be moot.

Wes, again you have made me take time out from watching football to think.
 
#94
Wes, again you have made me take time out from watching football to think.
Well . . . that's why we have this dandy little thread tucked all nice and safe in Philosophy, Gurus, Controversy and Evolution Forum.

Obviously, I am not up on the pertinent laws in her country, but I am aware of several BIG, VERY BIG tycoons there who have been brought down in flames through their own hubris in assuming they were "off limits" to prosecution. It is true there are a large number of corruption, lying, cheating, bribery, and extortion scandals in that country which reach the western press. I presume there are a number which don't make the press outside the country borders.

So, I would say that my advice in post 1 of this thread to consult an attorney to look out for one's own interest is good advice in that country as well. Too often, folks are so imbued with the hopelessness of their situation they seek only someone to commiserate with their plight and not someone to help them rescue or redeem the situation.

(well over half a century ago, my grandfather taught me the aphorism, "Light a candle instead of cursing the darkness!" It may even be the guiding force in my desire to always find the root cause of symptoms which cause trouble in business and in life in general and then seek a way to eliminate or ameliorate that root cause to eliminate or ameliorate the symptoms. Sometimes, though, we just don't have the knowledge or technical skill to do the job on our own.)

There is no shame in calling in help to do the job instead of crying in your beer about all your troubles. A good lawyer is one of those helpers.

Change management CAN start at a low level in an organization, but it takes a lot of skill in finding a suitable "champion" at a higher level in the organization and persuading the champion that his own best interest will be served along with the best interest of the organization if he "champions" the change to the next higher level and so forth until the change initiative hits the level where there is sufficient power and authority to actually implement the change. Frankly, not many people have such skill and an even lesser number of those with such skill have the patience to take the time required (months to years) to go through the process to get a major change accepted and implemented by top management.

In regard to my question 3 - even the lady in question is not sure of her ground
Basically as long as it functions...so I should fake the documents, and COA...I tried to argue but he said that we need output capacity, we are sending it to a third world country and it's not that important as long as it works.
I would like some input on this...it's ethically wrong but is it practiced in other parts of the world? Would the products be ok if we don't use medical grade?
Any information will be good, because I have to determine how much effort I have to put in to fight this battle.
I'm pretty sure she is not privy to the actual and implied requirements of their customers. One of the ASQ members responding to her thread made mention [I'm paraphrasing] that many companies "overengineer" their products for their real function and thus needlessly increase the cost of production. Could that be happening here? I don't know. If I were on the site and spoke the language fluently enough, I might get a different perception than hers and you, Craig, might form yet another, different opinion. All the more reason she needs to consult an attorney who can help her determine if her perception of wrongdoing is correct.

It will be interesting to see who chimes in Sunday on this topic.
 
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Jim Wynne

Super Moderator
#95
Obviously, I am not up on the pertinent laws in her country, but I am aware of several BIG, VERY BIG tycoons there who have been brought down in flames through their own hubris in assuming they were "off limits" to prosecution. It is true there are a large number of corruption, lying, cheating, bribery, and extortion scandals in that country which reach the western press. I presume there are a number which don't make the press outside the country borders.

So, I would say that my advice in post 1 of this thread to consult an attorney to look out for one's own interest is good advice in that country as well. Too often, folks are so imbued with the hopelessness of their situation they seek only someone to commiserate with their plight and not someone to help them rescue or redeem the situation.
One needs not only knowledge of the law itself, but how it's applied, and the nature of the legal system itself. In some of those countries, and I'll use China as an example, being "brought down in flames" isn't just a metaphor in some cases, and legal protection, where it exists, can be at the whim of officials outside the legal system. While some countries might have what appears to be an equivalent of our 5th Amendment guaranteeing due process, how it gets applied is often a different story.

In regard to my question 3 - even the lady in question is not sure of her ground I'm pretty sure she is not privy to the actual and implied requirements of their customers. One of the ASQ members responding to her thread made mention [I'm paraphrasing] that many companies "overengineer" their products for their real function and thus needlessly increase the cost of production. Could that be happening here? I don't know.
Here we come to the interesting questions, one of which has to do with whether committing fraud (either legally or ethically) is OK if no one is likely to notice. Craig suggested earlier that if whatever is being supplied is likely to be better than what the customers already have, it's possible that no harm is being done. Therein lies the question of ethics, as opposed to legality. Are illegal acts permissible so long as no one is harmed and you don't get caught?

If I were on the site and spoke the language fluently enough, I might get a different perception than hers and you, Craig, might form yet another, different opinion. All the more reason she needs to consult an attorney who can help her determine if her perception of wrongdoing is correct.
It might not be necessary to consult an attorney. After all, you don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.* It's possible, depending on local circumstances, that lawyers are likely to protect the interests of the business owners, and government officials, so contacting one might lead to trouble. I've seen instances in this country where lawyers, judges and businessmen have formed backroom alliances making it difficult for "little people" to get a fair shake. We also can't discount the fact that the person in question is female, and alludes to a very "patriarchal" culture. She may not even have a chance to be taken seriously.

*Thank you, Bob Dylan
 
M

mommabara

#97
I work for a steel foundry. The bulk of our parts currently end up in tanks, MRAP vehicles, etc., ultimately sold the the US DOD and foreign countries.
I was recently approached by a new x-ray tech who was bothered by something she had witnessed managers higher than me practicing. They evidently x-ray multiple castings, take the best shots from the multiple castings, then record all shots as having come from one casting.
I reported this practice via email to my boss (Directory of Foundry Operations and Quality) and to our CEO/owner. The CEO emailed me back that x-ray practice was a subjective thing, that he thought there were no solidification issues with the castings, and that we could discuss discuss the issue when I got back.
My boss came back with a scathing email accusing me of sending "bashing" emails and telling me that I should "stop" the practice, when in reality, I do not have the authority. My email was in no way inflammatory; I only expressed what I thought to be a valid concern and stated facts.
Although my husband is laid off and the economy is in shambles, I feel that I need to do something about this. This is not the only place where this company falsifies quality records, it just happens to be the most blatant. The whole thing has made me physically ill.
Do I consult a lawyer? Do I inform the customers whose parts are involved?
Any thoughts would be appreciated.
 
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#98
I work for a steel foundry. The bulk of our parts currently end up in tanks, MRAP vehicles, etc., ultimately sold the the US DOD and foreign countries.
I was recently approached by a new x-ray tech who was bothered by something she had witnessed managers higher than me practicing. They evidently x-ray multiple castings, take the best shots from the multiple castings, then record all shots as having come from one casting.
I reported this practice via email to my boss (Directory of Foundry Operations and Quality) and to our CEO/owner. The CEO emailed me back that x-ray practice was a subjective thing, that he thought there were no solidification issues with the castings, and that we could discuss discuss the issue when I got back.
My boss came back with a scathing email accusing me of sending "bashing" emails and telling me that I should "stop" the practice, when in reality, I do not have the authority. My email was in no way inflammatory; I only expressed what I thought to be a valid concern and stated facts.
Although my husband is laid off and the economy is in shambles, I feel that I need to do something about this. This is not the only place where this company falsifies quality records, it just happens to be the most blatant. The whole thing has made me physically ill.
Do I consult a lawyer? Do I inform the customers whose parts are involved?
Any thoughts would be appreciated.
Absolutely consult a lawyer!

Do nothing else until after you do that and then only on lawyer's advice.. Call local lawyer referral system - check phone directory or local courthouse for the number! You could be committing a crime if you contact customers and spread a rumor (all this is at this point) before LEGAL facts are assembled.

The kind of lawyer you want is the kind experienced in BOTH whistleblowing and wrongful termination - make that clear to the referral system.

Do NOT contact government agencies until you have retained a lawyer, then only on his advice. This is a scary time. Rash action could irreparably harm the case if, in fact, there is wrongdoing resulting in substandard material.
 
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#99
mommabara:
If, after you consult a lawyer, you are still confused, contact me through my Profile and I'll do what I can - you MUST protect yourself FIRST, otherwise you will not be able to help anyone else!
 

Randy

Super Moderator
I'm also sure that the surviving parents, widows and orphans of soldiers would like to know about this as well......This isn't like skimping on rust inhibitor while making a new car! :mad:

If they are selling SH(T for steel someone has to know and know fast




:blowup:
 
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