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Analysis of the Case 4.1

Although ethical issues in the communication between employees and their employers in practice are often disregarded or ignored, Rachel’s case illustrates how important it is to remain ethical during this type of communication. Her boss, Janet, made several important statements which influenced Rachel’s life. However, this paper illustrates that even if Janet behaved unethically, Rachel was responsible for the consequences as well.

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Rachel was aware of the possible transformations in her company that had dramatically changed her working conditions or even could have led to the loss of her position. It was important for her to understand the real situation. Meanwhile, being aware of the possible influence of her words, Janet consciously chose to omit the truth. She said to Rachel, “I promise you, Rachel, we’re not going anywhere.” A conscious decision to change the truth is a lie, meaning that Janet lied to Rachel which made her message unethical.

If it was so important to keep a secret, Janet could have chosen any other way to hide information about the merger of Ballinger. She could say that she was not entitled to discuss this topic or that there was always a possibility of a merger. Then, her words could be called ethical even though she would hide the facts. However, using such words as “independent forever” or “I promise you” shows tha Janet misled Rachel on purpose and was unethical. This fact was revealed later when Janet confessed, “You may think I had a moral obligation to tell you the truth, but I have a moral obligation to Ballinger to do my job. In this case, doing my job means keeping you here. Keeping you here requires that I omit certain information.”

What happened to Rachel was not completely Janet’s fault, however. No doubt, Janet had to be responsible for her words, but Rachel heard the information from the two different sources. It was apparent that Ballinger Systems’ stock was plummeting, as well as the stock of other companies. Even if Ballinger’s merger was an advantage for the headhunter, he made Rachel a good offer. However, it was Rachel’s decision whom to believe. She said, “I thought we had a good relationship. I trusted you.” She relied on Janet’s words more than on the words of other people. That is why she was so easily misled. Moreover, she was inadequately assessing her chances of getting a new job and relying too heavily on her company. If Rachel had analyzed these facts, she would pursue the job the headhunter presented to her.  

It is also important what Janet said about the reasons she omitted the information. It was an order, a strategy chosen by the company to keep the merger dark. Company’s ethical obligation in this case was to inform its employees about thhe merger as soon as the rumors started to spread. The merger leads to many transformations, including downsizing and the loss of job positions. This would affect not only the employees but also their families. On the other hand, the company’s honesty would result in “jeopardizing its day-to-day operations.” It means that Ballinger’s administrators were more concerned about the company’s wellbeing than the wellbeing of the employees. They declined all responsibility for their employees. So, it would be more ethically correct for Ballinger to tell the truth about the merger. It would produce the least harm because its employees would search for other job opportunities before it came to layoffs.

Unlike her subordinates, Rachel had a job opportunity that she refused to use. In addition, she was aware of the possible merger. However, she relied heavily on her company and her boss. Although the woman had enough information to make another decision, she chose not to believe in rumors. This is the reason she is also responsible for her own predicament.

To conclude, the company and the boss were unethical because they were hiding the important information, but Rachel could face the facts and choose another opportunity. Her faith and her confidence were betrayed, which was unethical; however, in this case, the boss and the company did not bear all the responsibility for Rachel’s predicament.

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