HR ethics

High School ・Business ・APA ・3 Sources

HR Ethics Scenarios Worksheet

Answer the following questions for each following scenario in no more than 200 words each.

1. The HR Director Is taking lunch outside the office. She hears a competitor talking about a significant change in their business that could affect the performance of her own firm. What is HR’s ethical duty?

What is HR’s ethical duty?

Ethically, it is right for the HR to organize for a performance management activity in the competitor’s firm to discover about the change initiative. It is possible to admit having received the information informally, but it is right to make a formal inquiry about the change initiative. The information gathered from the competitor should then be analyzed and appropriate counter measures should be put in place to ensure that the impacts of such an initiative do not negatively affect the business. By making a formal inquiry on the issue, the HR acts ethically and any strategies put in place will have been due to formal communication from the competitors.

Explain why this may fall under corporate responsibility and insider trading.

The decision to involve competitors before making a decision is in itself corporate responsibility towards the competitors. Given that the competitors form a larger portion of the Porter’s 5 Forces, acting ethically towards them would be a show of corporate responsibility towards them. Should the HR, however, decide to use this information to the benefit of her firm without consulting the competitor formally, it would amount to insider trading. In this case, the HR will not be acting within the provisions of corporate responsibility since the information will have been illegally obtained. Furthermore, the over-lunch talks overheard by the HR may not be conclusive remarks.

2. The head of HR refers a family member to a department head for consideration in an “unposted” job.

What do you do?

Nepotism at workplace refers to the recruitment of close relatives in job openings, whether posted or unposted. By referring her family member for consideration in an “unposted” job, the HR acts in a way that suggests nepotism at the workplace. Even though everyone is free to apply to any job opening, referring a relative to an unposted job is an act of nepotism and also amounts to corruption. Having discovered this, I would make follow-ups with the involved department to seek answers as to why this is the case. Professionally, I would advise the department to post the job to ensure equal opportunity recruitment

Explain this in the context of the corporate responsibility of conflict of interest.

All businesses operate within a social setting. It is the duty of the firm to act responsibly to the society through various initiatives. For instance, employing members of the society would improve the welfare of the community. By providing an equal employment opportunity to all the applicants, the company will be acting responsibly to its operating environment. In a case where the human resource department begins to favor relatives and close allies, a conflict of interest impacts on the responsibility of the firm towards members of the society (Bellow, 2013). The conflict would in the long-run affect the profitability of the firm and might lead to eventual collapse.

3. You just started your new job as the Director of HR for a government contractor. After being there for a few weeks, you notice that employees are being periodically drug tested. However, the tests don’t appear random and tend to focus on one specific group.

Why is it important to investigate and resolve the issue immediately?

Drug testing for employees is a legal procedure to be undertaken by the human resource department periodically depending on company policy. In this case, however, the trend is suspect. The fact that a section of the employees is subjected to these tests amounts to discrimination at the workplace. Consequently, it would be necessary to investigate into the matter to ascertain the reasons behind the tests.

What should the investigation include?

The investigation should include the rationale behind the tests. In addition, the investigation should also seek to answer why only a section of the human capital is subjected to the tests. By providing answers to these two questions, it would be easy to determine any suspicious activities going on with the tests. The HR department would be put to task in explaining why this practice takes place in the organization.

Does the Drug Free Workplace Act apply here?

The Drug Free Workplace Act of 1988 requires some Federal employers and all Federal grantees to adhere to provision of drug-free workplaces (United States, 1998). This means that the tests must involve all the members of staff in an institution. In the above case, however, the tests seem to target a particular section of the employees. This in essence does not create a drug-free workplace since some employees are not included in the tests. The organization does not, therefore, adhere to the provisions of the Drug Free Workplace Act (1988).

4. The manager at one of your locations calls you and wants to terminate an employee for having religious quotes in his desk area. The area is located in the back room and no one but that person has access to the room.

Do you make the person remove them? Why or why not?

Having religious quotes in a private area would not amount to termination of employment. I would not let the manager use this as a basis to relieve the employee of duties. In the first place, the quote is only accessible to the employee and would, therefore, not be offensive to those not affiliated to such religious beliefs. The freedom of expression in this case is limited to the employee’s desk area.

Can the employee file a lawsuit under the Civil Rights Act, Title VII (1964)? Why or why not?

Should the employee be fired on the basis of the quote, they are legally permitted to file a lawsuit against the company and manager as per the Civil Rights Act, Title VII (1964). The manager has no right to use religious affiliation as a basis to fire an employee (Freedom from Religion Foundation, 2013). Furthermore, the quote inscribed in the employee’s desk area does not abuse the beliefs of all the other employees since the area is only accessible to him.

Explain why the manager might not have a case for making the employee take the quotes down.

The manager cannot have a case in asking the employee to take down the quote. Given that the company itself does not prohibit private display of such quotes, it would be baseless to demand removal of the quote. In addition, since the quote is not on public display where other employees can access it, the employee is within his or her rights to privacy. For these reasons, the manager has no rights to demand for the removal of the quote from the employee’s private desk area.


Bellow, A. (2013). In praise of nepotism: A natural history / Adam Bellow. New York: Doubleday.

Freedom from Religion Foundation (2013). Religion in the Workplace. FFRF. Retrieved from

United States. (1998). Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1998: Report together with minority views (to accompany H.R. 3853) (including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office). Washington, D.C.: U.S. G.P.O.

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