Presented below are five scenarios where ethical violations
may have occurred. The student should assess each scenario relative
to whether it violates one or more of the following "ethical
norms," or none at all. The norms, plus the “null hypothesis,”
Organizational norms (O), which consist of workplace
rules/expectations (e.g., be on time, don’t shirk your work, follow
the patrol guide).
Professional norms (P), which are rules binding on members of
one or another profession, (e.g., doctors must "do no harm,"
accountants must report honestly).
Legal norms (L), which are rules enshrined in constitutions,
statute and common law, (e.g., no citizen shall be denied due
Social/Ethical norms (S), which are widely held understandings
between individuals about the treatment they expect from one
another, (e.g., treat others as you would like to be
No norms violated (N). A null hypothesis!
To complete this exercise, after each case description below
insert the letter or letters (O, P, L, S, or N) that represent your
determination of what applies in each scenario. Then take two of
the cases and, to finish your answer, explain in more detail why
the norms you chose apply.
1. It is 4:45. The Post Office where you work closes at 5:00.
No walk-in customers are in sight. No cars are in the parking lot.
You and your fellow employees lock the door and start tallying the
receipts. Everyone is on their way home by 5:01, with no other
customers having shown up. _______
2.You are a police officer at the end of your 8-hour tour. You
arrest a street corner drug dealer after witnessing a drug deal
going down, having ignored others dealing in plain sight on the
same corner earlier in your tour. Now, however, all the hours
processing this last-minute arrest will take place on mandatory
3.You are a college security director who knows that campus
crime statistics have been suppressed. You deliver an orientation
presentation that assures incoming students and their parents how
safe the campus is. __________
4.You are a social service worker, and lunch is looming. You
notice that the center’s most obnoxious client is next on your
line. You deliberately draw out the interview with your current
client until your lunch hour, so that Mr. Obnoxious ends up with
one of your co-workers. _________
5.You are a policy-maker considering how certain citizens are
at risk of life and limb, and the loss of all their possessions,
because they reside in highly flood prone areas. You recommend that
nothing be done, reasoning that avoiding casualties and destroyed
possessions will entail housing upgrades and levee strengthening
that will cost much more than paying any compensation future
victims might obtain from existing government programs or the