An Employee’s Unethical Business Conduct

One would think that an educated professional individual, with a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, being employed for over twenty years, would know the difference between conflict of interest and unethical business conduct. However, in this imperfect world, this would not be the case of one engineer.

An employee has an obligation to his profession and his employer. Trust must exist between the employer and the employee, as well as honesty and courtesy.

A metal forging company that manufactured seamless rolled rings for the aerospace industry employed a young man, freshly out of college with a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. The employee was bright and learned everything he could, from the planning stage to the final forging. He was rotated to different departments, since the company liked to cross train all of their engineers. The employee finally settled in the Engineering Department, where he designed the tooling used to manufacture the forgings.

The designed toolings were manufactured there on site, but were sent out to be machined at different machining companies. Other than the material used for the forging, this was sometimes very costly.

While working in the Engineering Department, the employee met many people from different companies, including the machining companies he did business with and he was frequently invited to the machining companies to witness their process of machining.

The employee left the parent company and returned after five years. He was reinstated with all the company benefits and hired as the Assistant Manager in the Engineering Department, which consisted of the two managers and four additional engineers.

In the Engineering Department, before any tooling was sent out to be machined, the manager and/or assistant manager would have to approve machining, however, it was the engineers choice as to which machining company they wanted to use. Well, this employee would not approve any machining unless it was being sent to his preferred machining company. It turned out that the machining company was the most expensive and the work was too often unsatisfactory. Sometimes, the toolings had to be sent out again to a different machining company to be fixed. The engineers started to complain to the managers, but nothing was ever done, other than occasionally approving some tooling to go out to different machining companies.

One of the engineers complained to a manager from a different department, showing concern with being forced to use this one machining company, regardless of the poor results and expensive invoices. He raised questions and was suspicious, however, he was told to just do his job.

The accounting department had hired a new controller and as he was going through the finances, he noticed that this machining company had many invoices and their service was more expensive that the other machining companies. He started to investigate and found that both the managers in the Engineering Department had no good answer why they were more expensive. The controller then wanted to meet with the decision maker of the machining company, and was surprised when he was sent their deliveryman and told that the owner was not available. This response drew a red flag right away. The controller brought this to the attention of the

company’s President, CFO and other managers. They all decided to commence an immediate investigation.

As the managers investigated, they discovered that their employee, the Assistant Manager of the Engineering Department, owned the company. During his five year leave, the employee had gone out and started his own machining company and then returned to the company guaranteeing himself work.

The employee knowingly conducted himself dishonorable, irresponsible and unethical. His honor, reputation and usefulness of the profession were disgraced. However, because he had been with the company for over twenty years, he was asked to resign due to a conflict of interest and so the employee did.

This affected the engineering department greatly, especially the engineer who had voiced concern with being told to use that machining company even against his wishes. They began to question the honesty, morals and ethics of not only their managers, but also the other department managers.

Ethics play a vital role in today’s business world and when company policies don’t exist, employees still have a responsibility