The Case Study of the Transferred Employee
You are an administrator of a department in a health organization that has recently been reorganized. Personnel from other units have been permanently transferred into your department so that your department can take on additional tasks in support of the mission of the health organization. After two months have passed, one of your new employees comes to you asking for you to complete his annual job performance appraisal. You are surprised because all the annual performance appraisals were supposed to be completed by the supervisors of the losing departments before they were transferred into your department. Because you do not feel you know the new employee well enough to do an annual performance appraisal, you call the former supervisor and ask that she complete the performance evaluation herself on the employee. The losing supervisor refuses and says that it is now your problem. The losing supervisor further states that no one from Human Resources told her that she was supposed to do a performance appraisal on the employee before the employee left her division. The losing supervisor also confides in you that writing a performance appraisal 90 days after it is due will trigger a “Red Flag” with Human Resources that may reflect negatively on the losing supervisor’s management and supervisory effectiveness of her department.
Frustrated with the situation, you approach your supervisor and ask for his guidance. He suggests that you change the date on the employee’s internal transfer documents making the employee appear like he arrived in your department yesterday. Your supervisor also said he would talk to the other department leader and make sure she did an evaluation for 12 months on the employee and not just for 9 months. It was also suggested that you could provide some input on the evaluation because the employee did work for you for the last 60 days. Your supervisor says to you that, “This happens all the time.” He continues by stating that, “It is easily corrected by creating a new set of documents.” He assures you that there is nothing illegal about this, and that this methodology is used frequently to correct otherwise careless administrative actions in the facility
Your supervisor then tells you to go back to your office, retrieve the transfer documents already in place, and replace them with new ones representing the dates you and he just talked about. As you begin to walk back to your office, you begin to feel uncomfortable taking an administratively correct set of documents, destroying them and then replacing them with some newly created documents that do not represent the actual dates of the transfer. You feel this only further provides support for an otherwise ineffective Human Resource System. However, as a new department head, you are uncomfortable losing favor with the boss who controls your future in the organization. To protect yourself, you informally call the organization’s legal counsel to get some advice. Legal counsel tells you that your supervisor is indeed correct, it is not illegal to change the documents if changing the documents results in a correction to a previously incorrect administrative error. You counter by telling legal counsel that this may not have been a human resource or administrative error as much as it is the avoidance of a negative human resource action. Legal counsel suggests you go back and discuss this with your supervisor if you are uncomfortable doing anything regarding this matter. This suggestion makes you more uncomfortable because your boss is not an individual who enjoys repeating himself or being challenged or questioned by his employees. Such events are perceived by your boss as the actions of disloyal employees. You are certain that going back to your supervisor will result in an uncomfortable event for you.
What do you do?
Do you change the documents?
Do you go back and confront your supervisor?
What is your decision and why did you make it?
What is your next course of action?
What other factors do you consider and what other actions do you take?
What ethical framework/Distributive Justice Theory best supports your decisions regarding the case and why?