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Business Law Chapter 30 Homework Discussion Points For Scenario Questions Rate The

Page Count
4 pages
Word Count
986 words
Book Title
Applied Business Ethics: A Skills-Based Approach 1st Edition
Authors
Dean Bredeson
MODULE 30: Firing Workers Responsible for a “Big Problem”
Core Module Issues:
When a “big problem” emerges, does a company need to find a “fall
guy” and fire him?
If so, who should the “fall guy” be?
If not, what should it do to reassure the public that they are taking steps
to prevent the problem from happening again?
Module Teaching Notes
Disasters are sometimes the fault of a single person, but more often, a long chain of errors by many people
precede a bad result.
An interesting AMA study recently estimated that 200,000 (not a typo that's two hundred thousand)
American deaths per year are at least accelerated by imperfect medical care. This is an astonishing
number.
Now, in many cases, the people are quite ill to begin with. But in some, entirely health patients perish as a
result of significant blunders.
And in most of the cases, more than one person could have, in theory, prevented the harm.
(If you are a law-type person, you might want to lecture on proximate causation for awhile here, and
perhaps respondeat superior. If you are not a law-type, though, such a discussion is not critical to the
scenario.)
Whether the “big problem” caused by a mistake results in death, injuries, or financial losses, a key question
becomes how should we react? What should we do to reassure our customers that this won't happen
again? Should part of our response be terminating responsible parties?
This last question, in particular, is a difficult one. Everyone makes mistakes from time to time, and being too
aggressive in firing workers who make mistakes can make everyone paranoid.
On the other hand, when things go wrong, the market sometimes seems to almost demand that a fall guy be
indentified and fired. When NFL teams have poor seasons especially runs of poor seasons fans seem
to expect a coaching change, and they commonly get one.
In this module's scenario, five different people are in a position to prevent to ultimate harm to a customer
who buys an SUV that eventually malfunctions. There is:
-A worker who carelessly makes the manufacturing error in the first place.
-An inspector who carelessly fails to catch the manufacturing error.
-A salesperson who sells the malfunctioning car to the customer.
-The salesperson's manager.
-An inspector at the car dealership who does a lousy inspection and fails to spot the danger.
It is interesting to see who the students blame the most, and to seek out whether they tend to blame a
person who makes an initial mistake or one who is “closest to the ultimate harm”.
Discussion Points for Scenario Questions
1. Rate the five people discussed in the example above from 1 to 5, with 1 being the person
most responsible for the SUV fire, and 5 being the person least responsible.
_____ Ron (installed the assembly improperly in the first place)
_____ Bill (did a lousy job inspecting Ron's work)
_____ Anna (did not double-check the buzzing sound before selling the car to a
customer)
____ Max (did not tell a mechanic to look into the problem)
____ Doug (does a lousy inspection at Smith's Car Country)
[THIS QUESTION IS NOT DIRECTLY FOR DISCUSSION, BUT GIVE THE
STUDENTS 30 SECONDS OR SO TO MAKE OR REVIEW THEIR RATINGS.]
2. Focus on your top two people most responsible for the SUV fire. Why are they in the top
positions? If the story can be reconstructed, and specific blame can be placed on them, should
they be fired? Disciplined? Neither?
A. WHO ARE THEY WHY DID YOU SELECT THEM?
3. What if the red SUV had not caught fire in a parking lot? Assume that the car had ignited
with the customer inside and that the customer had been killed. Should more people in the chain
be fired if their mistakes resulted in a fatality?
A. MORE DISCIPLINE DOES THE OUTCOME ALWAYS MATTER?
SHOULD MORE PEOPLE BE FIRED OVER A MILLION DOLLAR LOSS THAN
OVER A $25,000 LOSS?
4. Speaking generally now, when a chain of errors in the workplace leads to bad results, do you
tend to place more blame on the people who make the initial mistake or on the people who
supervise them and fail to correct the mistake?
A. INITIALMISTAKE BUT WHAT ABOUT THE TWO INSPECTORS WHO
ARE EMPLOYED SPECIFICALLY TO CATCH MISTAKES?
5. Now, assume that only one person is to blame. Assume that the car was manufactured
correctly and had no problems until it was prepped for delivery by Doug, the mechanic at Smith's
Car Country. While going through his inspection in a hurry, he accidentally pulled the wire loose
from its socket and left bare copper exposed. If the car ignites, should the mechanic be fired?
A. YES WHY?
B. NO WHY?

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