General Question

Dog's avatar

What would you do? Ethical question (see details)

Asked by Dog (24428 points ) November 5th, 2009 from iPhone

I used to work in a restaurant waiting tables. A girl applied for a job one afternoon as a cashier.

I waited tables nearby as my boss (a very business-like woman) interviewed her.

The girl seemed very nice and polite. She was answering questions and ( I felt) doing very well in the interview.

Then my boss asked her a standard question. She asked why she wanted to work for the restaurant chain. Her response was to roll up her right sleeve. Hidden from view she had a walnut-sized tumor.
Her eyes began to mist as she explained that she desperately needed health insurance.

My boss finished the interview and sent her off.

I casually asked if we would be training a new cashier and my boss snapped out “Never! She just wanted to use the company.”

What would you have done? Do you agree with my former boss?

I suppose I would not be good in business because I think I would have hired her.

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65 Answers

Likeradar's avatar

OY!
In one way I agree with your former boss from a strictly business point of view. From a human point of view though, if she would have done a good job as a cashier I would have hired her.
Is this a position with a high rate of turn over? If so, your boss is a schmuck. If it’s a position where someone should be there for long term and this girl would likely leave after having treatment, it wouldn’t be so black and white.

casheroo's avatar

What a strange scenario. I don’t think the girl should have even mentioned her medical problem.
Plenty of people work just to have health insurance, but they don’t come out and say it.Maybe it was hard for her to not mention it.
I think if she had a good resume, and did well on the interview..then I’d hire her. I don’t view what she was doing as “using” the company. I would expect her to do her job and if she was awful then I’d let her go.

tinyfaery's avatar

Everyone uses their employer and their employer uses them. That’s what a job is. Like anyone wants to work at TGI Fridays (for example) because they just love the company and want to have the most flair. If she was qualified I would consider her. If it was between her and another equally qualified person, I’d hire tumor girl. I’m a sucker.

FutureMemory's avatar

I would make a point of hiring her.

Judi's avatar

But it does say something about her judgement that she would just throw that out there. I would be hesitant too.

Grisaille's avatar

I don’t even know what I would’ve done, but you bet your ass that I think that boss is in the wrong.

God, this hurts my heart. And angers me to no fucking end.

augustlan's avatar

Cashier in a restaurant? If she was qualified, I’d hire her. If it was for some super important job, I might think twice.

jrpowell's avatar

@Judi :: She was honest.. The fucking horror.

But hey, I got mine, Fuck you.

This country is screwed.

Facade's avatar

I wouldn’t have blamed the girl for being honest. That’s why people work. For the money, for the benefits. I hate interviews for that very reason. Having to bullshit another person just to get hired says a lot about this country.

holden's avatar

On the part of your boss, it seems really callous not to hire her just for her reason for wanting the job. Was she supposed to say she wanted to wait tables because she’s passionate about making minimum wage while serving people food? It sounds like your boss turned down a potentially outstanding employee because she was annoyed with her playing the sympathy card.

Grisaille's avatar

@johnpowell Well said. Very well said.

oratio's avatar

Would getting those health insurance benefits cover a pre-existent condition like that?

ninjacolin's avatar

she would have been uninsurable unless she was asking her boss to lie for her and pretend he didn’t know. she would have needed to get her doctors to lie too most likely..

He could have just offered her a job since she probably would have left once he explained that he wouldn’t lie. His reason wasn’t good.

Grisaille's avatar

@oratio Even better question. I’m sure she was at wits end. She seems as if she’s desperately fighting for her life, in any way possible.

Again, I’m about to fly into a fucking rage.

holden's avatar

No, I don’t think it was ethical. What a horrendous bitch.

jrpowell's avatar

I’m with @Grisaille… It is so damn stupid that we are even having this discussion.

rooeytoo's avatar

If the boss was thinking these terms, she is sick and will not be able to show up for work and then we will be shorthanded and the entire staff will be pushed. Then I understand why he did not hire her.

If he subsidizes employee medical insurance and the rates were bound to go up because of her claims, and he could not afford the increase, then I understand.

If the medical insurance is self funded and her claim would cause the rates of all employees to go up, I understand.

I have been in business for myself most of my life and a decision like this would not have been easy to make but sometimes there are reasons not evident to all. If the business is financially not strong and something like that would push it over the edge and all would lose their job, would that make it different.

I don’t think life is black and white I would have to know the guy’s motives before I judge him.

Judi's avatar

@johnpowell ; I didn’t say I wouldn’t hire her, I said I would be hesitant. I would question if she would have appropriate judgment in a business situation. I would have to weigh all the positives and that. I’m not a cold hearted bitch, but especially if I were working for someone else I would have to look at the whole picture.
I answered the question honestly. I don’t think I deserved a FU for that. You would not believe the things I have done for my employees that most employers wouldn’t do.

jrpowell's avatar

Remember when we lit up Iraq? Each of those bombs were about 1 million each.

Judi's avatar

(and I wish we had universal health care so she woldn’t have to even choose a job based on if it had benefits or not.

jrpowell's avatar

@Judi :: the “Fuck You” was directed at the system and not you.

augustlan's avatar

@Judi @johnpowell I read it as an FU to the system, too. But I could see where that could have been easily misinterpreted.

casheroo's avatar

I’m not very knowledgeable in the matter, but I didn’t think insurance through work companies had limits when it came to pre-existing conditions, only private health insurance companies. I could be completely wrong though.
I know with my first pregnancy, we attempted to get insurance and they said it was a pre-e condition so it wouldn’t be covered. And that was through private insurance companies.

holden's avatar

@casheroo your pregnancy was a pre-condition? Does not compute!

Judi's avatar

I think here in California they can’t deny because of pre-existing conditions in a group policy. I know blue shield makes bank on our 5 employees. I think my husband just told me that we pay over $30,000 a year.

augustlan's avatar

There usually is a waiting period for pre-existing conditions, after which they will be covered. Also, if you’ve had continuous health coverage (but, say, just got laid off) it will be covered immediately.

Grisaille's avatar

Pregnancy as a pre-existing condition. Amazing.

I was reading a story the other day. Apparently a baby was denied medical insurance because it was in the top 5% of the weight bracket – that was enough to qualify as a pre-existing condition. Yes, this does happen.

casheroo's avatar

Yep. And we called a couple places and gave up. Then we resorted to not so uh, morally correct thing, to keep me insured while pregnant. It’s pretty ridiculous, but you do what you have to do to get insurance (in my opinion)

cyn's avatar

I would give the poor woman the damn job.

Iclamae's avatar

I’m ½ with your boss on this but for a different reason. It’s one thing to take a job because of needing health insurance, it’s one thing to tell the interviewer your reason, and it’s one thing to say you have a medical condition that requires attention. It is a completely different thing to show your tumor, mist up, and pull a pity party. I feel for this woman but she approached the situation wrong. She could have been honest about her condition and her reason but talked about it as a matter of fact, not a pity pull. Interviews are meant to be formal discussions of your ability in the job. She should have kept it together for another 10 minutes.
Your boss’s reason for not hiring her is flimsy. In that situation, I wouldn’t have hired her for the sake of having someone on staff who is willing to pull that kind of thing for a leg up. I would rather have discussed it with her calmly (the time off implications, etc) than be put in that situation.
In terms of “using the company,” I don’t really think that’s much of an issue here. It’s a cashier position and if she seemed qualified based on resume and such, she probably would have been fine to get the job done. Sometimes you have the problem of someone filling the bare minimum requirements to avoid getting fired in the “i just need health insurance” group and that’s extremely frustrating. But I think cashier job duties are very clear so I don’t think that would have been an issue.

Grisaille's avatar

Removed by me.

Grisaille's avatar

Edited that post. @Iclamae, you’re absolutely correct.

I get passionate, sometimes.

Iclamae's avatar

You didn’t have to remove it. Thank you. I’ve been there too (passionate answer-wise).

MacBean's avatar

@Grisaille: I heard about the “obese” four-month-old, too. Did you hear about the two-year-old who is also being denied insurance because she’s too skinny? Fucking ridiculous.

galileogirl's avatar

Sorry. I.m not buying the whole story.

1. The hospitality industry is notoriously poor inproviding medical insurance
2. A walnut sized surface tumor is most likely easily removed
3. Pre-existing condition.

You actually didn’t even clearly delineate the ethical dilemma in your narrative. Are we supposed to be the eavesdropper, the supervisor or the applicant?

Is the question whether the eavesdropper should instruct the supervisor about who should be hired and why or what are the ethics of standing around listening instead of doing thr job he’s being paid for. Or is it that the supervisor hire someone who is too stupid to come up with a good reason why she should be hired Or is it more ethical for the applicant to try to get a job by invoking pity or sshould he get herself to the county hospital and get herself treated

Better luck next time, Kiddo.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

@oratio‘s question is correct—health insurance would not cover a pre-existing condition for a period that varies from state to state. It can range from 6 to 18 months.

I would venture a guess that the appearance of the tumor caused the young woman to understand why having insurance is a good idea.

Your manager’s reaction is correct; if the young woman really wanted the job, she should have stated a reason that was not quite so self-serving.

Health insurance claims are paid by the premiums that all the employees of a business pay in. For small businesses, it’s a pool of premiums paid in by other small businesses within in a geographic location. People pay in every month, and don’t file claims. Their money goes to pay the claims of people who do utilize the health care system. Your bills aren’t paid by the insurance company’s money, but by coworkers. If there are a lot of claims, then premiums go up the next year because a bigger pool of funds is needed to pay the claims.

The purpose of hiring someone is for the good of the company, to sustain employability for everyone that works there. Cashier positions often turn over quickly. Would you really want have the business to hire someone who would work long enough to get medical coverage for treatment, then quit, leaving existing employees with increased premiums the next year, or worse, the business having to drop coverage for all employees because of escalated premiums due to the claims of a person that no longer works there.

If you have health care coverage, are pregnant, and change jobs, your pregnancy is covered under continuity of coverage. Are pregnant and don’t have insurance, then take a job with insurance, then pregnancy is not covered because you were pregnant before you started the job. The child is covered immediately at birth under a family plan. Many states require 100% coverage of all infant claims the first 30 days of life, regardless of plan type.

Dog's avatar

@galileogirl I stated the facts as they happened and asked if you would have hired her.

Not sure how much more direct I needed to be however for further clarification I will say: “If you were the BOSS would you have hired her?

Also the insurance the employer had here in California required a 6 month waiting period before coverage. I am not an insurance expert and thus do not know if she would have been denied on her claim after the six months and this really was not the point of the question.

Regarding an “easily removed surface tumor” again this was not the question. We have no way of knowing the nature of the tumor or how much it would cost to have it removed even if it was easy for a doctor to do so. Obviously the applicant could not afford the treatment without the help of insurance.

In answer to my own question I would have hired her so long as she was capable of doing the job which she appeared to be. I thought my boss was harsh but I will readily admit that I am not a business person. Seeing this unfold has haunted me and I wonder if she ever got the care she needed.

trailsillustrated's avatar

I wouldn’t have hired her. I certainly wouldn’ve felt sorry for her, but showing a tumor? during an interview is just too wierd. She probably would have got the job but for that.

patg7590's avatar

@johnpowell standing ovation

MacBean's avatar

”[...] I wonder if she ever got the care she needed.

Probably not. Just about the only way to get health care here is to not need it.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

It’s a waitressing job, for christ’s sake. Anyone can do it (maybe that’s an assumption on my part). I, as the boss, wouldn’t think that anyone takes such a job because that’s what they want to do for the rest of their lives. Given the economy right now and given how screwed up health care is, I’d pretty much expect that anyone that shows up for that interview needs to ‘use’ me for something. As someone that works with cancer patients and someone planning on opening up a Cafe some long time from now, I could be that boss, in the future. And yes since it’s a pre-existing condition, I’d explain to her right after she’d show me the tumor that her chances of getting health insurance are slim and that she tied my hands by showing it to me so that I can not lie on her behalf. I would hire her though so that she can at least have some money in her life because cancer simply ruins people.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

If I’m a manager for the store then it’s my job to contribute to watching the bottom line and would probably do as your boss did. The applicant shouldn’t have even mentioned she’d be using the health insurance, that’s a death knell. Every time an employee makes a claim to the insurance policy, it affects how often the rates will go up in cost to the employer. Also, there is the time off of the job the employer has to think about. I’d be thinking the girl would work long enough to qualify for benefits, make her claim, take her paid leave and then move on to something else. In the meantime my store would be out the money to have her drug tested, trained, subsidize her benefits and then the expense of her replacement while she’s on leave.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

So a woman shows up for a job interview, says she’s just there for the insurance because she needs medical treatment (and most likely will need time off) that possibly could raise up everyone’s insurance rates, or result in the company dropping coverage, and you’re okay with that?

Likeradar's avatar

@PandoraBoxx That’s a very good point. I might still be ok with it, but it gives more to think about.

galileogirl's avatar

The only ethical thing to do is fire @Dog for eavesdropping on a private conversation instead of doing his job. Also blabbing confidential information on Fluther.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

I think that was a cold decision to deny the woman work when she was being honest and upfront with her condition. A less honest person would get the job, get the procedure to remove the tumor and disappear. The fact that she brought this up during the interview suggests that she’s on the level.

Was the woman capable of doing the job? Did she seem interested in doing the job?
When I go to work, I go to work with the interest of being paid and receiving benefits. That doesn’t mean I’m using the company.

food's avatar

I think that the applicant should have emphasized more what she liked about the job. Otherwise, she makes you wonder if she will be naturally motivated to do it properly. She made the classic mistake of thinking that her plea would move someone to give her the job for that reason, when your boss was looking to give the job to the most qualified person. Okay, so several have mentioned that her honesty is admirable. Fine, I agree, but she should have mentioned her condition at the right moment of the interview and in the right way.
If she had done that, it would be easier for me to definitely agree that she´s not using the company.
Note that I am not saying whether I would hire her or not (I wasn´t there to see what my intuition would have told me about her) and I am not saying that you shouldn´t hire someone who has a preexisting condition (although she might possibly not get insurance anyway for a preexisting condition, does she know that I wonder?)

food's avatar

Oh, and I do agree that if I were your boss or the interviewee, I would be very uncomfortable to find out that someone was telling my story over the internet…. sorry about it, but confidentiality is a pet peeve of mine….

Dog's avatar

Just for Clarity:
I posted the question and deliberately did not add any details except the very basic facts needed to ask the question. The event is not current. The restaurant itself went out of business several years ago. In the future I will be sure to create entirely hypothetical scenarios so everyone remains comfortable.

I have been thinking about all this and really appreciate the answers that took the company point of view. It helps to see all the concerns regarding time off and insurance premiums.

However I do still think, if the person was able to work the job well I would hire her. She could become a very loyal employee or not but at least I will feel okay about it.

Maybe this is why I am not in management. My heart would put me out of business.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

@Dog Maybe decisions similar to that of not hiring that woman due to circumstances not relating to the job requirements led to the business’ demise.

augustlan's avatar

@galileogirl Wow. A bit harsh, there.

Grisaille's avatar

@johnpowell Keith Olbermann said almost the exact same thing last night: “I got mine, screw you.”

Immediately thought of this thread, immediately went into rage mode.

We’re fucked.

Also, @galileogirl, I’m positive I could find “confidential information” in your Fluther history. This is about as tame and generalized as a description of a situation can get. But thank you for painting your brush of self-importance over us, sure does give us solid introspective with regards to your character.

I also thank you for not paying attention to the subject at hand, instead relying on ad hominems to take jabs at @Dog, who you would, if you have any knowledge of the Fluther community, know is an exemplary, caring woman. But I don’t think that’d phase you, regardless. You seem more occupied with making yourself feel better ‘bout yourself.

galileogirl's avatar

@augustlan
1. I didn’t believe this scenario from the get-go
2. When I challenged @Dog he modified it
3. If any part of it was true, it has been presented to be very biased against the authority
4. How does anyone justify slacking on the job and eavesdropping?
If @Dog is going to present a fictional ethical question, I’m going to fictionally fire him.

@Grisaille Get a grip!

Dog's avatar

I never modified this question. EVER.

I do not know why you continue to take this question off topic
nor why you are resorting to personal attacks.
If you do not like this question please move on.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

[Mod Says] Let’s stay on topic please.
Off topic quips will be removed.

rooeytoo's avatar

What if the small business simply could not afford to hire someone who is obviously ill and would probably not be able to show up for work. I would assume this person is going to need surgery and won’t be able to come to work. I have my own business, I cannot afford to hire someone who can’t work, simple as that. I would feel sorry for the person but I have to take care of myself and existing employees.

I would suggest to her she try to get a job with the government, they seem to enjoy benefits that a small business owner only dreams of, such as paid vacations, paid sick leave, paid personal leave, paid medical insurance and so on. Or perhaps with a large industry, if unionized again the benefits are great.

I think everyone is making the business owner out to be some sort of a villain but in reality they are just trying to pay the bills. My creditors don’t care about my health, they just want their payments on time.

Those who are suggesting that the business owner should hire this person regardless of the consequences, do you when you see a homeless person on the street, take them home and give them the spare bedroom? Do you give them every cent in your pocket and you go hungry, because that is possibly what you are telling the small business owner to do.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@galileogirl I am perplexed by your responses – why are you so resentful?

Dog's avatar

@rooeytoo Excellent points.

The restaurant in the question was a large national chain which was bought out and then liquidated by a competitor. It was a very big business.

I think hiring her on if it was a small company would be a totally different scenario. A small company does not have the resources available to a big company to get reasonable insurance coverage etc.

I would have to research before I could answer this question under those conditions.

rooeytoo's avatar

@Dog – that does put the scene in a slightly different light. But we still don’t know if that manager could have been under serious pressure to improve the bottom line, perhaps her own job was on the line. Who knows…...

Sometimes I wish I were more decisive, I always seem to be in the gray area when so many others are in the black or the white. Then I wonder if that is a good thing or a bad thing? Doesn’t really matter, it is the way I am.

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sophillyk's avatar

if she was capable of doing the job then why not help her out! I’m a very sympathetic soul i think i would have hired her right away, then again the best business people in the world are most certainly not sympathetic souls.. maybe thats where im going wrong.

tinyfaery's avatar

Sorry I missed this.

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