Ethics - Moral law vs. Criminal law

mlthompson

Involved In Discussions
#51
Wow, Wes, this is truly a great thread. I must be honest in reading it, it leaves me a bit dismayed. Based on my own faith-based ethics, I personally seek for truth and purpose myself to do what is right. I find myself disappointed in the fact that everywhere you turn, you find "posers", both individually or corporately. You hear of a great story and feel that it is true, only to see it posted on a website that it is just a farse. Even being a faith-based person, I see falsehood in so called faith-based people/organizations. People who are supposed to be there to help the interests of others, but in the end are only seeking their own. I don't say this to slam on all faith-based people/organizations, just the ones that are clearly out for themselves. I know that this is life (and I do have my big boy pants on :D ) but nonetheless it leaves us in a stooper.

I can't help but believe that most if not everyone has a conscience. Even if someone gets into something they think is alright, the morality of it at some point will begin to weigh on them. I hope that folks who find themselves in questionable activity will find the strength and fortitude to make the necessary personal choices.

I recently heard someone say that "personal choice" is better than "political protest". Taking everything to the courts or protest lines only creates more adversaries. If we all stand up together against the expectation to falsify records along with any other questionable activity, maybe just maybe we can change the tide.

I know...wishful thinking, but there has to be hope somewhere in the world.
 
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Wes Bucey

Quite Involved in Discussions
#52
Wow, Wes, this is truly a great thread. I must be honest in reading it, it leaves me a bit dismayed. Based on my own faith-based ethics, I personally seek for truth and purpose myself to do what is right. I find myself disappointed in the fact that everywhere you turn, you find "posers", both individually or corporately.

. . .
I know that this is life (and I do have my big boy pants on :D ) but nonetheless it leaves us in a stooper.

I can't help but believe that most if not everyone has a conscience. Even if someone gets into something they think is alright, the morality of it at some point will begin to weigh on them. I hope that folks who find themselves in questionable activity will find the strength and fortitude to make the necessary personal choices.

. . .
I know...wishful thinking, but there has to be hope somewhere in the world.
If anything, I would say the overriding theme of this thread is a pragmatic one:
"Doing the ethical thing is long term good business."

I had a professor long ago who termed it "enlightened self-interest."

The point being some "secrets" never seem to stay secret whenever more than one person becomes privy to the secret. As soon as one of the secret holders faces more pressure to give up the secret than to keep it (regardless if that pressure is conscience or a prosecutor offering a reduced sentence on another charge), the secret gets aired.

Here in Chicago's federal district, an apparently incorruptible U.S. Attorney is garnering large numbers of public corruption convictions. His primary tool is simply grabbing and squeezing small time graft takers for testimony against crooks higher on the food chain in return for a break on their own charges and sentences. Local newspaper columnists cynically refer to the process as "lining up to get a seat on the federal bus" because some small time graft takers are running to the feds even before the investigations hit them because they recognize the first guy to squeal gets the best deal.
 
J

John Huheey

#53
My response is based on my background, which is 25 years in Federal Law Enforcement where a majority of my cases dealt with civil and criminal false claims cases involving the supply of nonconforming products.

In QA, one has to understand that the ultimate measuring tool is not just the ISO Standard, or the manufacturer's specification, its the contract. In the case of a widget sold to the US Government, the contract clauses preclude supplying products that contain materials purchased from Cuba (and other embargoed countries). In the case of the pharmaceutical testing issue, the unlawful activity relates to the company's false representations to the FDA during the product qualification process. Its true, these aren't necessarily "Quality" issues covered by some dictum from ISO, but they are contractual or regulatory issues that can result in criminal or civil actions against the company.

As a company executive (in my own company now) I would hope that anyone identifying a potential legal issue like these would cite their finding in their report, regardless of whether it is covered by ISO or not.:frust:
 
J

John Huheey

#54
Wes, your advice to whistleblowers is excellent. As indicated in my previous thread, I personally worked with many "whistleblowers" who brought cases to my agency. A good attorney who specializes in Sarbanes-Oxley or Civil False Claims Act complaints is a must because they will automatically recommend that the complainant also hire a good attorney who specializes in employment law to handle the "other" part of the case dealing with "Unlawfull Termination". In my 25 years of investigating significant white collar crime, I never saw a "whistleblower" who remained as an employee of the company they were complaining about.

Once you decide to take the issue outside of the company, you won't be able to go back, and you will have trouble finding employment in the same field with other companies in the same business.

Of course most of the whistleblowers I had contact with had already taken their issue as far as they could within their company, and most had already been terminated or placed on some form of "suspension" before they even came to my office. My suggestion to whistleblowers is to:



a. Confirm that the issue you have identified is a "significant" quality or engineering deficiency that has some actual effect on the product or end item.

b. Confirm that the issue you have identified is a "clear" violation of the contractual or regulatory requirement under which your company is performing.

c. Consult with an attorney who specializes in these matters. They will not "out" you to the government or to your company because either action would violate their own professional standards and they could be debarred for such conduct.

d. Be prepared to wait 4-6 years for resolution of any Qui Tam Civil False Claims Action (and understand that you will probably lose you job, even if the company is forced to pay you a significant award for wrongfull termination).


John Huheey
 

Wes Bucey

Quite Involved in Discussions
#55
Thanks for the affirmation, John. I often feel like I'm whistling in the wind when I encounter folks who ignore the simplest advice and destroy their own careers while barely wounding the target of their complaints.

Welcome to the Cove!:bigwave:
 

BradM

Staff member
Admin
#56
Yes, John! Hello! Welcome to the Cove!

Your experience and background will provide some insight we may not otherwise get on a lot of the discussion topics. Thanks for taking the time to post on this one.

Look forward to reading your posts in the future.
 

Wes Bucey

Quite Involved in Discussions
#57
Time to revisit

Well, it's been awhile since we visited the ethics thread.

Anyone out there think this thread has relevance to the recent recalls of products?

We did get an update on the item in Post #27, where the company sued the whisteblower for $5 million. After TWO appeals by the plaintiff (first with the small appeals panel, then with the entire appellate court), the lawsuit was ultimately dismissed. Diehl was very lucky in that the ACLU and a bunch of "friends" contributed to his court expenses. Note, the case was never adjudicated, only dismissed, so Diehl had no opportunity to countersue (which would have lent credence to plaintiff's premise Diehl was trying to discount in his own defense) so Diehl could not recoup damages from the cost of a seemingly frivolous lawsuit. That further confirms my point that Diehl neglected to perform a FMEA to analyze all the risks of taking his whistleblowing public by ranting at a rally and handing out leaflets calling the trash company "trash terrorists." Luckily, Diehl was not a company insider and so only lost income for the time he was unable to work while dealing with the lawsuit and raising money to pay legal fees.
One of the questions I've asked myself with each new massive recall of toys, then cribs, then crib-like playyards, is how many quality guys and engineers were aware of the product substitutions and design flaws which led to the recalls. Some might ask, "What did they know and when did they know it?"

I would ask, "When you first learned of the flaws or nonconformances,
  • did you try to resolve issues through established channels?
OR
  • did you look for a way to ensure you, personally, had 'plausible deniability'?"
Isn't that an interesting ethical question?
 

BradM

Staff member
Admin
#58
The other night there was a movie on the Independant Film Channel called Trust. It was from the 90's, was classified as a drama/ comedy, and was... well.. OK. In short, a rebel (who was a genius) was in love with a girl, went back to his old employer for a job. They were in computer assembly (this was the early 90's).

Returning to his old job, he noticed they were installing boards that were classified as rejects (due to too many failures) in the computers from when he was there previously. He reported it to his direct supervisor, who told him not to worry about it. He reported it to the manager, who gave him the "upper management knows what is going on, and if they think it OK, then don't worry about it......" and so forth.

While research ethics has significantly limited the scope of study in human behavior, we have classic studies like the Milgram studies:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment

Observing the tremendously powerfuly effect obedience and the need to be accepted can play on an individual.

To your current query, what would truly interest me is the whole situation:

Group A: They should have known there was an issue, but did not.
Group B: They thought there was an issue, but played blissful ignorance.
Group C: They knew there was a problem, but somehow rationalized it.
Group D: Those that just left.

One can study Ethics all day at a college/university, and not too surprising, many of those textbooks seem to have all the answers. But when we talk reality, YOU, your job, your livelihood, in the here-and-now: Which of the four above is really the most/least unethical? Kinda scary, to me. What would you do, in the chair in Milgram's lab?
 

Paul F. Jackson

Quite Involved in Discussions
#59
I have often reassured my kids and myself that "A good name is chosen rather than great wealth" synonamously stating that "you cannot buy your reputation". I encouraged them to protect it at all cost.

It costs plenty! One of my sons contracted with my brother-in-law to cut grass at one of his strip malls, He lapsed and my brother-in-law who is quite wealthy was charged/fined $2000 dollars by the city for cutting/fines.

My son paid back the $2000 dollars, far more than what he earned for the job! He is a wiser man for that experience!
 

BradM

Staff member
Admin
#60
Thanks for the example Paul. Too, I would submit to you that he had someone very influential in his life:notme:, providing a positive example of how to be ethical, even when it's not easy or cheap.:yes::agree1:

Now, how as a society, do we deal with those that... for whatever reason, has not had such basic morals drilled into them? Or at one time may have had the morals drilled to them, but sold/traded/ buried, etc. for whatever reason in Corporate America (or insert your desired country)?
 
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