Unethical behavior in the workplace

There have been occasions throughout my career when co-workers or even managers have asked me to do something I considered unethical. Most of those times, my first reaction was to quickly refuse, but other times I was extremely uncomfortable and anxious.

The situations that caused me the most discomfort were those where I was concerned that a co-worker would react negatively if I refused, and the rare occasions when a superior was the one making the request. The specific requests ranged from turning a blind eye to improperly logging time, to terminating an employee without following company policy or legal requirements.

The motivation for these kinds of requests can range from simple ignorance to willful intent. In the most extreme cases, there are federal and state laws that support a moral and ethical work environment, but even in federal or state law there is no clear-cut definition that covers every aspect of ethical or unethical behavior. I also acknowledge that it is impossible to address every specific unethical situation you may face, but there are some clear scriptural passages that we can use as a guide.

Read the whole chapter in Biblical HR.

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In Biblical HR, Brett Billups has done the hard work of showing us how to let the Bible instruct us on our work life, and how to think about everyday issues.

Telvin Jeffries
Former Chief Human Resources Officer – Kohl’s Corporation, Former Global Chief Human Resources Officer – RadioShack Corporation