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Common Workplace Ethics Violations

An ethical company is one in which the employees and management trust one another and work to the common good. Ethics violations carry a wide variety of consequences, from policy and procedure changes to firings.

Maintaining an ethical workplace is advantageous for the employee and the employer. It is not always easy to ascertain ethics violations. Every employee should consider it his job to maintain high ethical standards as a representative of his employer.


Workplace Ethics Violations



Whether it’s taking home office supplies or a grabbing a stack of paper plates from the break room, when a customer steals from her employer she is costing the company money.

Theft also comes in the form of padded time sheets, use of the company telephone for personal long-distance calls and abuse of sick-leave policies.



Lying to clients, co-workers and supervisors is another common ethics violation. Lying to the public or falsifying reports can even put the public’s health and safety at risk. When such deception is exposed (as is frequently the case), the reputation of the company can be damaged–sometimes beyond repair.



Harassment comes in a variety of behaviors, but generally is based on race, sex, age, religion, origin and disability. Harassment, which in many cases violates federal law in addition to a company’s ethics policy, occurs anytime a person is singled out for derogatory comments or actions based on any of these criteria.

Companies are liable for the actions of their employees, so most have put in place training programs to help recognize and avoid this type of ethics violation.


Internet Usage

With the advent of the Internet came a new type of workplace ethics violation. Most companies have strict rules and guidelines regarding Internet usage, and violating these policies can result in disciplinary actions, up to and including firing.

Examples of inappropriate use of the Internet would be spending time on pornographic or social networking sites or blogging during work hours. Additionally, an employee must take great care not to reveal proprietary information via the Internet.


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