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Monday, November 12, 2007

Morality Challenged Part 3

The conclusion of my employment saga. I encourage you to read the first two parts here and here.

Having gone to war last week over a dishonest policy and the reporting of an unscrupulous employee who happens to be the boss’s brother, I abruptly quit my job. Though I’d like to say that I wash my hands of all of this, there are yet more moral and ethical decisions that I have to make. In response to last weeks madness I could…

1) Call corporate because the business is a franchise. I could tell them how a person with a criminal record was employed at one of their franchises. I could tell them how safe food handling procedures were disregarded and about the dishonest policy that the store has adopted. 2) I could write an anonymous letter to a local periodical, particularly one associated with the Jewish community to let them know that Kosher food was mishandled. 3) I could call the Kosher certification board, 4) the food safety certification company 5) the health department, 6) the Better Business Bureau etc. 7) I could write a blog with identifying information, the store’s name, phone number, address, fax and warn people not to go there. I could send out emails protesting against the store. etc. In short, I could set it off!

There are several issues that these options present. The first is motive. Even though I could reasonably report the store and discourage people from buying their merchandise, does that come out of a desire to bring down corruption, and protect people from products that could be tainted, or out of some unconscious drive for revenge. In other words I face doing a right thing for the wrong reason, which in my book is still wrong.

The second is ruining the reputation of an all around good business that happened to have made some tragic mistakes. In other words, this isn’t Enron! It’s a franchise, owned by a husband and wife. The store normally produces healthy, tasty, aesthetically pleasing products. The business has done a lot of good, including raising money for breast cancer research (albeit that was mandatory) and hiring a disabled woman when other businesses would have turned her down. The female manager is a generally nice person. She’s never accusatory when something happens; instead she makes sure that she listens to the employee’s side of the story. Customers have often complimented the store for its excellent customer service, its warm, inviting atmosphere, and its enticing products. Though I’ve certainly had my share of bad experiences there, including the two that culminated in my leaving, I am not sure that I can rightly tarnish the reputation of this business. Does the business’ actions merit losing its reputation?

Third, I am or at least was friends with the female manager. To report the business that she worked so hard to establish seems a bit treacherous, particular when she offered me a job when I needed one badly. Fourth, I face bringing down a black owned business, and I strive to support my people’s entrepreneurial efforts. These things are huge things for me to think about. Should one bad apple ruin an entire business? Should one dishonest business practice destroy the efforts of those who have worked so hard to attain it?
And what about forgiveness? Where does that factor in? I wrestle with these questions, but I don’t have any real answers. Perhaps the situation is better left in God’s hands. Perhaps my walking away from the business made the strongest statement. By leaving I showed that I would not engage in dishonesty, no matter how seemingly innocent it appears. I demonstrated that I would not tolerate a situation where some employees must follow the rules, while others can break them casually based on their familial relation to the management.

This situation, however convoluted it might be, has taught me incredible lessons. My ethics and morals were challenged. I had to choose to put my money where my mouth is (however cliché that sounds). On this blog, I have vehemently condemned injustice, criticized ungodliness and cultural relativism, and denounced the evils that plague our society. It is very easy to climb atop a soapbox and preach platitudes, but when life hits and you are pressed against a wall, those are the moments that define who you are and what you stand for. I am no martyr or saint. Just a sin-filled person, who makes mistakes, but strives to stand up for her convictions.

So what do we do? When our convictions are challenged and our integrity tried how do we react? And what will such a reaction say about our character? Will it expose a character deficit or demonstrate character strength? The answer lies in the decisions we make each day.

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