Working means fulfilling your staff member service instructions and accomplishing tasks your boss assigns to you. But while most of the tasks are just everyday routine chores, some commands may put you in a double bind. Moreover, in cases, when your superior manager asks you to do something illegal or clearly unethical, you can find yourself in the seemingly lose-lose situation: do it – and you could face fines or even jail time; speak up – and you could get under pressure or even fired.
You Always Have Options of What to Do
Yet, always remember that you should never break the law. So, consider these steps you could take when life and your boss confront you with some unethical or illegal requests.
- Plan your actions. Don’t wait until the described situation will catch you off balance and plan ahead. Thoroughly think about what you would do and how you would act when faced the request to act inappropriately. The purpose of this exercise is to get you prepared and be able to think rationally, not emotionally.
- Always keep in mind that “I was just following orders” is not a legit excuse in the face of the law and criminal justice.
- The same goes for “I didn’t know that this is illegal!” explanation – ignorance of the law is no excuse.
- Be mensch enough to do not comply. Saying “I will not do what you ask” is a right way to start.
- Gather documents and evidence about how the situation came to the point of breaking the law. Written notes, emails, voice recordings, etc. – everything will do.
- Letting your Hunan Resources staff know about the situation you are in can help, too.
- Another department that you might want to consider reporting to is Legal.
- In some organizations, there is a special hotline where employees can report on ethical problems arising as a worker fulfills his or her duties. Of course, all communications on such hotline are held
- If there is no such hotline in your company, you may address relevant governmental organizations with the issue, for example, Securities and Exchange Commission or Department of Labor.
- Consult with or/and hire a lawyer.
- Get an alternative view of the issue by talking to someone you trust and who is knowledgeable enough – a good friend, a mentor or a spouse.
- Update your resume – just in case.
Let’s hope that you won’t find yourself in a situation when all the recommendations above need to be applied. Yet, as the old saying goes, hope for the best, prepare for the worst. And use intentionality, which is an emotional intelligence competency requiring you to realize and take responsibility for your motives and for your actions. Regarding the matter of this article, intentionality means fairly answering yourself the question “Will I do something illegal or unethical?” Just “yes” or “no” without anything in between. If it is a “no”, then our tips will come in handy for you when the time comes.