Social Question

laurenkem's avatar

Unethical behavior for a RotoRooter employee? You tell me...

Asked by laurenkem (3398points) April 21st, 2012

Today, RotoRooter was called because of a plumbing issue in my condo complex. Basically it was kitchen sinks, garbage disposals and dishwashers backing up, and actually was pretty gross. I digress. While in my unit, the employee of RotoRooter indicated that, while all the leaks were fixed, my garbage disposal is due to be replaced. He quoted his company’s price to do the job and then, as an aside, added that he would be willing to “freelance” the job for way less. When he left, he handed me a business card – not for the company, but for him personally. I assume this is common, but should I take the cheaper job when I know this guy is cheating his company?

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66 Answers

SavoirFaire's avatar

The guy isn’t cheating his company, he is competing with his company. If they make their employees sign non-competition agreements, then he is doing something that could get him fired. Such agreements, however, typically preclude employees from attempting to take clients with them after termination of employment (they often don’t even consider the possibility that someone might take a client during the course of employment). If the company was really careless enough to leave such a giant loophole in their contracts, it’s their own fault. If not, then I suppose this person’s actions could be considered unethical. I wouldn’t feel too bad for the company, though, given that this guy wouldn’t be making his offer if he had enough work in the first place.

jrpowell's avatar

Well, this is pretty common in the electrical, plumbing, carpentry fields. I chalk it up to employers not paying their workers enough.

laurenkem's avatar

@SavoirFaire I get your point. That being said, he was driving a company vehicle and wearing a company uniform and representing the company, so should he not only be trying to sell company services?

@johnpowell I know this is common, I just wonder if any of these employers ever pursue an employee for violating the “non-competition” rules.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@laurenkem He did try to sell you company services. He just happened to give you a counteroffer at the same time.

laurenkem's avatar

@SavoirFaire Point taken and noted. Plus, he was cute, lol, and now I have his number.

woodcutter's avatar

@johnpowell True that. That is how new companies spring up in a free market society.People who believe they are being treated fairly would hardly ever throw away a perfectly good job.

laurenkem's avatar

Okay, now let’s add in all the other questions. What if this guy doesn’t have insurance to protect me in case something goes wrong and he floods my whole house? What if he steals from me? If you’re dealing with the company, at least you have some recourse.

chyna's avatar

That is then your decision to make with all those points in mind.
A guy has to make a living and if he is doing side jobs for extra money, then so be it. I would not turn him in, but if you feel like the discount he is giving you is worth it, go with him.
If nothing else, call him because he is cute.

laurenkem's avatar

lol @chyna , I would never turn him in. That would just be mean. (and I just might call him to install my new garbage disposal! Oh yeah, and because he’s cute.)

woodcutter's avatar

Since this guy knows you know his employers contact # he would be motivated to make sure you are happy so you don’t drop a dime on him. He’s taking a risk too.

laurenkem's avatar

@woodcutter I realize that and I would never do something to cause someone to lose their job for such a reason. Jobs are hard enough to get these days.

gravity's avatar

Did he say what he would take for pay in return for the job? It may not be cold hard cash he was thinking of…. hmmmm

SavoirFaire's avatar

@laurenkem You are right to worry about things like insurance and honesty, but I agree with @woodcutter that you are in a strong position here. You know his name, his phone number, his employer’s name, and his employer’s phone number. If he tries to scam you, you will be able to track him down. As for the insurance, you can always ask for proof that he is insured (or that he has at least taken out insurance for this job) before hiring him.

woodcutter's avatar

Also there will be the occasional moonlighter who is incompetent that we need to be careful of. It is a risk but if you get a feel for the guy and he’s confident and is professional it might be worth a shot. Hell there isn’t anything in life that is a slam dunk but you can use your gut to make a choice. If a moonlighter has to get all the insurance there is probably not going to be a very drastic discount. That is a big part of the reason they can afford to be dirt cheap sometimes. Another reason to be over the top careful when doing business on your own.

laurenkem's avatar

Thank you all for your input – I haven’t yet decided what I will do (other than not use my garbage disposal until it’s replaced), but I think I will make the right choice. For me, anyway. It’s a great system that allows me to bounce these questions off of all of you first!

woodcutter's avatar

You can always do it yourself. It realty isn’t all that hard and it will bring you a burst of “I can do it myself buzz” that will last a lifetime. Get a book at Lowes, Home Depot, etc and do it. You can do this.

Coloma's avatar

It’s called free enterprise and I agree, he has a right to do side work. As long as he doesn’t have the plumbers crack thing going on, take no offense. lol
My ex husband installed fire alarm and home security systems when we were young and he did a lot of side jobs for friends and family at cost of parts and a much more reasonable installation fee.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

One more thought that hasn’t cropped up: Since when are garbage disposals “due” to be replaced? Don’t they just need to be replaced (it’s about to die or is dead) or it works? Might this be a repair person attempting to take advantage of a customer?

laurenkem's avatar

Well, he pointed out that there was a small leak and that some “seal” was crap. Who the hell knows? He might’ve just been scamming me! (shame ‘cause he was cute, lol)

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

How about getting a second opinion/quote from another company first. If that person says it needs to be replaced for the same reasons, call Cute Plumber back for his price quote. If it is lower, hire him. If it isn’t and the price difference is reasonable, hire him. If plumber #1 says it’s bogus, then you have some good information about cute guy’s trustworthiness.

Judi's avatar

This is bull shit. If he worked for me and I found out about it he would be fired. (we have a contracting business and do a lot of repair work. )
A guy tried to get one of our employees to do a side job a month or so ago. He saw him repairing a door at the neighboring business. Our employee refused and gave him my husbands card. We have great employees.

augustlan's avatar

I do think what he did is unethical. Not that I would report him or anything. Hell, I might even take him up on his offer to do the job. But if he were my employee, I would be most unhappy.

jrpowell's avatar

@augustlan :: A boss can fire me at anytime for any reason. I reserve the right to fuck them every chance I get if I am treated like shit.

augustlan's avatar

Yeah, @johnpowell. I get that, I really do. I guess I figure I wouldn’t treat my employees like shit in the first place. :)

Judi's avatar

Our most recent hire has been with us over 10 years. We treat them well. That’s why I would be really pissed if they took our trucks and our time to solicit side jobs. They DO do side jobs, but they don’t find them as a result of working for us, and they use their own tools, materials, trucks and time.

whitenoise's avatar

Yes it’s unethical. A lot of people here seem to confuse illegal with unethical.

Scary.

SavoirFaire's avatar

For the record, @augustlan treats her employees very well.

CWOTUS's avatar

Yes, of course it’s unethical. Non-compete clause or not, it’s a prima facie conflict of interest.

Twenty-three years ago when the concept of computer leasing hadn’t yet gotten off the ground I was working in a field construction office (for the same company that I work for now, as a matter of fact, before they reorganized several times after I left). We needed some computers and printers for about a year, but the main office wouldn’t let us buy them outright. So I went to my boss with a proposal: I would buy the computers and set up a bona fide part time business of my own and lease the computers to him (to us). To sweeten the deal, I told him that I would price any or all of the equipment as “lease-to-own” if he wanted that. He agreed, we priced all of the equipment as lease-to-own and he took it when the lease term was up. (I folded the company about a year later, since Dell started nationwide leasing and I wasn’t about to attempt a competition with them.)

I felt a little dirty about the deal I made with my boss, since it was effectively a kickback, and probably a conflict of interest for me, too. But at least it was a confluence of interest, too, since we really did need the equipment, and there was no other likely way for us to acquire it. The company benefited, but it was something we couldn’t advertise very openly, either. (For the record, my prices were in line with what Dell started charging for comparable equipment a year or so later – but they had an advertising budget that I sure didn’t have.)

For me to have gone into competition with my employer while they paid my salary, health care, retirement benefits? – that would have been crossing a bright line.

woodcutter's avatar

Life is hard. You gotta grab any opportunity you can to survive. From that standpoint all is fair. We don’t have much time here.

As for doing a job with the suspicion of stacking the necessities of replacing more than was felt necessary- With the low price that moonlighters charge,they will tank on a job because they got called back to eventually go that extra yard they should have done on the first trip out. Any callback to make good on the job will result in a money hemorrhage. As well as maybe some embarrassment to boot. Better to replace whatever parts that are related that are apt to go bad even though they may have seemed fine at the time. It’s a real tough sell to tell a customer you didn’t involve ”those parts” in the original bid especially if they didn’t add significantly to the total fix. They just want it fixed and they want it done well the first time. Some customers have to make work arrangements to be there to let you in and its a pain in the ass to bug the boss again to beg off work to meet the plumber.

Coloma's avatar

I agree it would be unethical if the employee is using company vehicles and parts unethically, but to utilize ones skill and knowledge to earn extra income is what I would call enterprising. I’ve worked in interior design and I redecorate friends homes all the time. I go shopping with them, give advice, choose pieces for them and it has had zero effect/competition with my primary design associates. There is a difference between moonlighting in your field of expertise and unethical behaviors IMO.

rooeytoo's avatar

Every time a question of this sort arises it seems that the consensus is that all employers are miserable cheap ass bastards who take advantage of poor helpless employees at all times. And that all employees are wonderful, conscientious, hardworking victims of whomever. I find this to be bullshit. If you work for me and you don’t think I am a good employer then quit! It is a lot more difficult for an employer to fire someone than for an employee to leave on a whim with or without notice and good reason.

I have a conscience and would never try to steal work from my employer especially while being paid by said employer. If I wanted to work on the side I would tell my employer that I intended to do this and would then pay to advertise my services. I would expect the same from an employee whether we had a signed agreement or not.

What this guy did is at the very least, underhanded, I would not trust a person who is that unethical. He would screw you as easily as he is screwing his employer.

Thank you @augustlan for interjecting a note of sense in this thread.

lillycoyote's avatar

Yes, it is unethical. He is not self-employed. He is an employee of Roto-Rooter and therefore should not be trying to sell his services on the side, when he is called to a job where he is representing his company and is being paid by them. If he tries to get work on the side, out of that context, then I don’t think it necessarily would be unethical. It would depend on what his employer’s guidelines and policies are regarding moonlighting.

And just because something happens all the time or because a lot of people do it, most certainly, does not make something ethical. If he wants to be an independent contractor or self-employed, then he should do that. If he wants to work for Roto-Rooter, to be in their employ and get a paycheck from them, then he should act in the interests of his employer, not himself.

jca's avatar

He may be insured to do his own work. I have a friend who does similar work and he works for both an insurance company (i.e. when people buy maintenance contracts on their appliances) and he works on his own, for himself, his own company.

You, as someone who will be hiring the guy to do work for you, have every right and he should expect you to ask about his experience and if he is insured. You may be pleasantly surprised that he’s qualified, insured AND cute!

SavoirFaire's avatar

@rooeytoo I just don’t see the universal generalization in anything that was written. Indeed, most of the comments here have been about what this specific person’s actions suggest about his specific situation. There are certainly people willing to discuss the commonality of such situations, but no one I see has made the universal claim that you are attributing to them.

As for quitting, not everyone is in a position to leave their job. It’s a nice thought, but these actions you dislike are the actions of people whose employment opportunities are already dire. They’d change jobs if they could, but they cannot. Perhaps this is due to their skill set, perhaps it is due to the current economic situation. In either case, they work one job they dislike and look for further work on top of that.

In the end, we don’t know yet if this person is desperate or conniving. We also don’t know what his employer would think about it. I worked in the construction industry for a few years while putting my wife through college, and I knew plenty of tradespeople who did outside work. The employers knew that they were hiring people who were functionally independent contractors. Roto-Rooter typically uses the same model, so it may be that they expect this kind of competition.

This why my first post acknowledged the possibility that what this person is doing is unethical, but refrained from rushing to judgment. There’s too much we don’t know about the specific situation. Different professions have different norms and different expectations. It would be unwise to quickly impose what is expected of us onto others.

Judi's avatar

Another point I should make is that in most cases, the contractors license belongs to the employer, not the employee. It very well could be illegal (as well as unethical) if the guy is doing work that requires a license. In California, a job that costs more than $300 requires a license.

blueiiznh's avatar

I don’t think very highly of this practice. I have had it occur to me many times and throw the business card in the trash.

CWOTUS's avatar

No, @SavoirFaire. You’re rationalizing this. I’m surprised at you. It’s one thing to hire workers on a construction job (I’ve been in this position, too) who have broadly marketable skills and market those skills for their own benefit in their time off. That’s fine; no one should have a problem with that. As long as they’re doing the job they were hired for during their paid time – and not undercutting the employer in the process – then there’s no conflict of interest.

But if you’re hiring a plumber to make house calls for your business, ostensibly to seek work for your business, and he then undercuts his own work for you by offering a competitor’s bid, too, then that’s outrageously offensive. The employer’s costs are higher because of his overheads! He has to pay the costs for people to make estimates and submit quotations for work that he knows he often won’t get. He might get one in five of the jobs he actually quotes, but he had to pay the costs for the other estimates – and the only way that he has to cover those costs is in the work he gets at higher rates.

If his competitor is (nominally, at least) working for him, then how can he ever come out ahead? No wonder the employer’s situation is so dire that he’s trying to cut costs and having to lay off people! His “employee” is having him cover the costs of his competitor’s estimating and quotation function! Not only that, but he’s trading on the employer’s good reputation, because the homeowner didn’t call “Joe Schmoe Cheapo Plumber”, he called Roto-Rooter™, and the employee is then in a position to steal the work.

There’s no ‘maybe’ about this; it’s a fraudulent pretense by the ‘employee’ to accept wages from his employer (not to mention the benefits beyond the cash wage, which his self-employment doesn’t have to account for) while he undercuts that employer whenever he chooses.

rooeytoo's avatar

What @CWOTUS said. Honesty is always the best policy. Stealing work from your employer is not honest.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@CWOTUS I never thought I’d see you on the other side of the free-market fence! ~

I am as yet unclear as to what I am rationalizing, however, as I have remained agnostic as to whether or not the behavior is unethical. It seems I would have had to take a position in order to be rationalizing it. My first post was primarily about legal implications, with a brief comment about why I would be sympathetic to the employee even if we had to say that his actions were unethical. My recent post, on the other hand, was purely formal. It showed only that an argument that had been given was insufficient.

All of the local Roto-Rooter plumbers are double-listed in my phone book under their own business name. I assume that Roto-Rooter is aware of this; and if not, then someone is guilty of awful negligence in protecting their business. This is the source of my agnosticism, then, as it is not yet clear to me that the person asked about in the question has a different contract than my local plumbers. Maybe he does. If so, then it is most likely trivially true that he is violating some professional code of ethics. At present, however, I do not know. If you have information I lack, please do send it along.

Judi's avatar

@SavoirFaire,
The plumbers in your phone book are contractors who bought a franchise. Here, we are talking about an employee of the contractor, not a Roto Rooter franchisee.

whitenoise's avatar

@SavoirFaire I don’t think you remained agnostic to whether or not the behavior is unethical.

In your first post, you wrote: The guy isn’t cheating his company, he is competing with his company. [...] If the company was really careless enough to leave such a giant loophole in their contracts, it’s their own fault. If not, then I suppose this person’s actions could be considered unethical.

In line with your reasoning, it’s OK to take candy from a baby.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Judi Ah, perhaps. I suppose I’ll have to look into it more. I’m not quite sure why this wouldn’t be a similar circumstance, though. After all, these plumbers could still do exactly what @CWOTUS was worried about—that is, they could do an estimate under the Roto-Rooter franchise and then do the work on their own. If it was really the same thing to them, after all, why would they have incorporated themselves independently?

This is a serious question. I am not a businessman, so there may be plenty of things about this situation I do not understand. I would be happy to be corrected, but I need the corrections to make sense to me.

@whitenoise I disagree. The differences between a baby with a piece of candy and a corporation not contractually barring its employers from competing with them are so great that your comparison doesn’t even make sense. People writing contracts have a responsibility to make sure all the terms they want in the contracts are in fact written into it. A baby has no responsibility to ensure that others do not steal its candy.

CWOTUS's avatar

I see your point, @SavoirFaire. If the “Roto-Rooter™ employee” was the licensed plumber – the principal – who owns the franchise for that area, then he’s within his rights as an independent contractor to do that job “as Roto-Rooter™” or “as himself”. And in that case I wonder if owning the Roto-Rooter franchise is just a way to get some exposure that wouldn’t be available otherwise.

But if he’s an employee of the franchise owner, then I’d stand by my original objection.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@CWOTUS Yes, I think you are correct. You and @Judi have convinced me that my original response is incomplete and that a lot more rests on the specifics of this person’s employment than I had originally implied.

whitenoise's avatar

@SavoirFaire
Make that ‘stealing an unlocked bicycle’, then.

The matter of fact is, that whether something is legally allowed is a different matter from whether something is ethical.

When working for someone, I feel it utterly unethical to tell a customer of your employer that you have a cheaper alternative to your employers product. More so, when you are personally gaining from that.

In Holland, I’m convinced that such behavior could be seen as a legal ground for terminating someone, even if it wasn’t part of the contract.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@whitenoise Stealing an unlocked bicycle is still not parallel. If I fail to lock up my bicycle, that is foolish of me; but it does not absolve you of responsibility should you decide to steal it. This is the same reason that how someone dresses cannot be used as an excuse for rape. Contracts, however, are a special matter. Two people start completely unbeholden to one another and give up only those rights specified in the contract. All other rights are assumed to be retained. Therefore: if the contract contains no clause stating that the right to compete has been given up, then it must be assumed that said right is retained (unless, of course, some other source creates overriding reasons to think otherwise).

There is also an ambiguity in your posts that I would like to clear up: are you talking about professional ethics or morality here? While what is ethical and what is moral may often overlap, they need not do so. As such, it would be best to be clear about which you mean before any sense can be made of your unqualified claim that the behavior was unethical.

Regardless, see my response to @CWOTUS. I have already changed my mind about my initial post.

whitenoise's avatar

@SavoirFaire
You tell me the difference between ethical and moral and again we will find that we end up in a semantical discussion.

Webster:
Ethical means involving or expressing moral approval.

Moral relates to principles of right and wrong.

And moral phylosophy is the study o what it means to live the a good life. (my own)

I already pointed out to the difference between legal principles and morality / ethics in my first post.

And sorry, but I see great resemblance between an employer that is careless enough to not cover a proper non-competition clause and a bicycle owner that forgets to lock his bike.

jca's avatar

@laurenkem: Please post an update, if you wish, as to which you choose to do: utilize his services or not utilize them.

JCA
The Update Lady

rooeytoo's avatar

@SavoirFaire – you have so often accused me of whining and here you are waffling and whining and trying to defend an indefensible position. Grow up and stop playing word games.

Judi's avatar

My father was a union organizer. He thought a lot about workers rights AND responsibilities. He taught me from the time I was little (he died when I was 10) that when you go to work for someone you sell your time. On their time you work for their best interest. On your own time, when you’re not getting paid, they can’t tell you what to do.
He would say, ” @Judi, don’t be a thief. When you work for someone and they pay you by the hour, give them their money’s worth so no one can accuse you of stealing.”
Using THEIR hour to promote MY competiting business is totally stealing.

CWOTUS's avatar

@Judi the wild card in this, which has taken a while to discover through discussion and minimal research, is that Roto-Rooter™ sells franchises to other plumbing contractors. A lot of plumbing contractors are one-man shows. So that one-man operation could be called as “Roto-Rooter™” (they’re all over the phone book under that name), and may have specific pricing that he has to follow when he bids a job “as Roto-Rooter™”, that is, as representing the franchise.

But once he’s called to the site, there’s no reason, I suppose (I don’t know the franchise rules), why he can’t take off his Roto-Rooter™ hat and put on his “Joe The Plumber” hat and bid the job that way. I get the feeling that that is not what happened here… but it could have.

That’s why I’ve backed off my hard line from earler; there are too many unknowns in this to say that there was for sure unethical behavior. It’s likely, but not certain.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

I’ve held my tongue on whether this was an ethical infraction or not because my experience in this arena is limited, albeit applicable. Like @CWOTUS, I’ve done a bit of research. Roto-Rooter’s web-site offers garbage disposal replacement product/services. A call to the Roto-Rooter’s main line and conversation with a manager netted little, other than they have some franchises and some company-owned stores. Thus, he could not or would not answer the question about whether it is required for employees to sign a non-competing contract. When asked if he personally thought it was ethical, he refused to comment.

In my little world, this was an unethical move by Cute Plumber Guy. Barring the fact that I still question his statement that the garbage disposal is “due” for replacement, if it was actually true, then he just should have stated so and left it at that. If @laurenkem had asked for his advice as a knowledgeable person in this matter, he should have said, “Roto-Rooter offers this service.” If @laurenkem had said, “Yes, but is that the best way to go?”, then it opens the door for stating the pros and cons of going this route. Ethically, he should not have just pulled out a business card and offered his services as an independent plumber.

There were several times in my career when I was asked by contacts to do some side work for them, meaning in the same field, but on my time off. While I was under no such contract to turn down this type of offer, I did on ethical grounds. I just suggested that they contact my supervisor. Some did, and I was able to take on the task.

It’s one thing if @laurenkem were to run across Cute Plumber Guy’s name in a directory while shopping around, but for him to solicit his services that competes with the company that supplied the initial business while on the job is point blank unethical.

woodcutter's avatar

You own a business and you want loyalty? Pay for it. It’s worth it. Every single business owner knows exactly what the cost of living is, has been , and will be. They all know if a wage they offer is enough to live on or not. No employer has ever been heard lamenting that they don’t pay their people enough. You want “right to work” legislation? Cool. The sword swings both ways. The trick to keeping good help is to keep up with them.Too often a request for a rate increase is met with finding some minute fault that becomes the excuse to keep someone in the pay doldrums. If a person is holding up their end and is otherwise an exemplary employee and you want to play chicken with their livelihood it is a gamble. Shitty employees usually won’t have a chance in hell of going solo to begin with. They are the one’s you get stuck with if you lump the good in with them. Chances are ,the very same business owners started out as someone’s employee and did the same thing they now fear.

rooeytoo's avatar

Here we go again, the instant assumption that the employer is a greedy bastard who underpays his employees while living like a king himself. And the employee is a wonderful human being who is a victim of the nasty boss and circumstances in general.

woodcutter's avatar

If a good employee feels the need to moonlight, then he is underpaid. Those so called conflict of interest cease and desist forms that employers make new hirees sign aren’t worth the paper they are printed on. I find it difficult to believe they are legally binding. Indentured servitude went out ages ago. If an employer whips one of those out you know you won’t be making a career there. Companies like these create their own competition. It has the opposite effect of what was hoped for. So I suppose…thank goodness for the stupidly loyal brown nosers that stay with the same business year after year despite crap wages because they think they would be nothing without them.~ Really thank goodness for the good guys who dare to leave the teet.

Now before we get our goolies in a twist, not all companies take their workers for granted but many do. The further south you go in the US the worse it gets. I see what is there.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@woodcutter I would like to respectfully disagree. A couple of years ago, the company I worked for surveyed over 40,000 line level employees and asked them why they would leave their job. Salary/Benefits came in at #10. The #1 reason? Lack of recognition. Other reasons that beat out Salary were lack of training, poor scheduling (meaning they felt that they couldn’t do their job well if there wasn’t enough staff on hand), and several were related to management. Like @Judi alludes to, treat the employees well, and they won’t leave. They’ll be loyal.

If a person is moon-lighting because they need more money, so be it. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they are underpaid. It usually just means that their expenses cannot adequately be covered by the incoming salary.

In the hotel industry, it is common to have new sales people sign an agreement that states that they will not attempt to woo their accounts away should they get a job in another hotel. I’ve witnessed sales people moving on to another hotel chain, and they notify their account contacts that they are leaving. I can only recall one case where an account followed the sales person to the new hotel. Our company could have sued the sales rep, but the account’s employees complained about the change, and the business came back.

I’ve lived in both northern and southern US, as well as had hotel inspection territories in many parts of the country. I never saw a direct correlation with one area treating their employees unfairly more than another. It was purely based upon management and ownership no matter where the hotel was located. They had a knack for hiring the right people and keeping them happy. This created employee loyalty.

Even if Cute Plumber Guy’s dream is to have his own business, is treated poorly, and is paid little, then he should just leave. Soliciting for competing business while on the company’s time is just plain unethical.

jca's avatar

@woodcutter: Someone could be working several jobs because they bought a $300,000 house and could only really afford a $200,000 house. They might have a bunch of kids and be divorced and have child support. They might have a Mercedes on a Volkswagen budget. They might like to take nice vacations and eat at restaurants more often then they could afford. They might like to shop and charge, and wear Prada when they can only afford Kmart. That’s not the employer’s fault.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@whitenoise I did not ask you about the difference between “ethical” and “moral.” I asked you whether you were making a claim about professional ethics or morality. A professional code of ethics is a set of rules one is expected to follow in virtue of being a member of a certain profession. Morality is a set of rules one is expected to follow in virtue of being a person. Your dictionary definitions, then, do not actually address the question asked.

Moreover, it is precisely the kind of view you oppose—the kind that attempts to conflate legality and morality (which is a logical fallacy)—that wants to treat the difference between professional ethics and morality as a matter of semantics. If you reject that attempt, then you cannot (on pain of contradiction) say that this is merely a semantic difference.

Nor would I understand the objection in any case. Words are what we have to communicate over the internet (the occasional picture or music link aside). When I ask for clarification, it is only to prevent myself from misunderstanding you. Is that really so wrong? It seems to me that it is not.

With all that said, then, your response suggests that you are making a claim about morality. Furthermore, you assert a very specific notion of morality (not everyone would agree with the eudaimonic notion you propose; most of our contemporaries accept a radically different conception of ethics than “living the good life”).

Taking on this view, however, is going to make your position more difficult to defend. For the eudaimonist, the distinction between professional ethics and morality will be a matter of what a virtuous person does qua employee versus what a virtuous person does qua human being. We surely do not have a duty not to compete with anyone qua human being on a eudaimonic view, but only qua employee.

This leads me to think that what you should have said is something like this:

“There is a distinction between the legal and the ethical, and then there is a distinction within the ethical between professional ethics and general ethics (aka, morality). That this person’s acts might be legal in no way show they are ethical, and they are in fact not ethical because they violate professional expectations of good employees. These expectations go beyond contractual obligations, which are purely legal. Thus the contractual arguments are beside the point.”

This would be a strong argument, though it seems there would still be a way to resist it. I could remain agnostic on the same grounds that convinced @CWOTUS to back off from his hardline stance: there are too many unknowns about this particular employee’s relationship with Roto-Rooter to know that his behavior was unethical. I, however, would also have to back off from my agnosticism a little bit and agree with @CWOTUS when he says that the action is probably unethical. The considerations against taking a hardline only go so far, and thus they do not support an absolute refusal to make any judgments.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@rooeytoo A question was posed, and I gave an answer. When arguments were made against the position I had originally taken, I defended myself until convinced that the original position was untenable as stated. That is not whining or waffling. That is rational discussion. It’s what adults do when they have disagreements.

If I have accused you of anything in the past, it is of acting childishly when faced with disagreement. Moreover, I have only made such an accusation once (and quite recently) in response to your attempting to dress down another member for having the gall to say “I may be interpreting you incorrectly, but I think you mean _____.”

If your response to that post was to follow me around, waiting for me to take an unpopular position on a question so that you could continue to complain (instead of actually adding to the content of the thread), then I must admit that I was wrong. Your behavior is not childish—it is downright infantile.

rooeytoo's avatar

@SavoirFaire – you were waffling, whining and trying to defend an indefensible position. I found it tiresome so I pointed it out, end of story.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@rooeytoo Repeating something false doesn’t make it true. Thanks for playing, though.

augustlan's avatar

[mod says] All right, guys. Let’s get back on track.

Response moderated
woodcutter's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer Well, in my travels, being well paid is recognition. You compare apples and oranges there. Line employees? Not the same thing as skilled labor with skills that probably cost money and a lot of perseverance to be proficient at. The people I identify with are those who work unsupervised and carry almost all the responsibility for the outcome of a job. Line employees are a dime a dozen with their highly regimented work environment and break rooms. There is a lot of drama and such may possibly need their ego’s stroked more or find it easier to complain. workers independent of that structured environment know they are good. Recognition comes from their deeds. They want to be paid well for them. Offering these guys more work, same rate isn’t the same thing. All it does is makes them pay more in income taxes. When an old employer of mine got wind I was doing work on the weekends they thought I just wanted to work harder + more hours same pay. No, It was understood I could do that all along. The trick to working weekends is to do way better for my time. Time and a half is a big rip off.

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