The case study on ethical dilemma

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The case study details the circumstances surrounding Anna, Janet, and Justin, three employees of a grocery distribution center in Ft. Myers, Florida. During her four years at the company, Anna rose from being an administrative assistant in the sales division to office manager in just 18 months: Justin, the brand-new district manager, is her subordinate. Anna is a single parent of two and enjoys her job and coworkers. She also intends to have a successful career in the future.

The majority of the adjustments Justin has made to the organizational structure of the business have been well-received by the staff. However, Janet, the receptionist, appears to be an issue for Justin. Having had a divorce, Janet lives alone and struggles to make ends meet: She takes part at the community theatre so as to increase sources of income, and distract her from the divorce. Even though Anna, her supervisor, has no problem with her scheduling, Justin hates Janet and want her fired. However, instead of doing it, he left the responsibility to Anna to document a negative appraisal and the paperwork that he would sign (to fire Janet) after he comes back from his vacation.

The Ethical Issue

The ethical issue in the case is that Anna loves her work, and hopes to work long-term at a Grocery Distribution warehouse. She has no problem with Janet who she feels is doing her job to the best of her abilities. In fact, Anna is happy with Janet’s efforts. However, since Justin hates Janet, he wants her fired from the company. While Anna has no problem with Janet, Justin is her boss, and she has to take directives from her. On the other hand, Anna feels that firing Janet (who despite going through a divorce and struggling to make ends meet, still does her best) is unfair to her. Moreover, even though there is a published Code of Ethics, there is not HR at Anna’s faculty – they are located at the headquarters in Atlanta.

Justin’s Behavior

Justin’s behavior is unethical. He hates Janet for no reason, referring to her looks and not sympathizing with Janet situation (the divorce). Moreover, he does not point out to any problem with Janet’s performance or moral conduct at work. Also, he goes over to instruct Anna to fire her, even when she sees no issues with Janet’s problems. Even though Justin is Anna’s boss, he has no right to intrude into her supervision of Janet.

Anna’s Possible Courses of Action

Anna can take the Rights approach and decide on the course that focus belief that Janet deserves to be treated with dignity based on her human nature and her ability to choose freely what she can do with her life (Flynn, 2008). In this sense, Janet has the right to grief and do her acting, and as long as it does not affect her performance, then Anna needs not fire her. This option will save compliment and improve Anna’s rapport with her coworkers (Ferrell & Fraedrich, 2016). However, it would be against Justin’s directives, and thus their relationship will become problematic: It is disobeying the boss’s instruction.

Secondly, Anna can decide to take the Common Good approach and judge the situation with respect and compassion for both parties through reasoning (Flynn, 2008). Following the Code of conduct, it is not right to fire people on the basis of their “likability.” This means that she would need to report the situation to the HR through email, or call them. However, it may take a long time, and go against the company’s protocol. The negative aspect of this decision may result in the disciplinary actions taken against of either or both Janet and Justin; or even Anna for not following her boss’ order. Moreover, the relationship between the Justin and Anna may be ruined and result in future problems.


Ferrell, O. C., & Fraedrich, J. (2016). Business ethics: Ethical decision making & cases (pg. 133-147). Nelson Education.

Flynn, G. (Ed.). (2008). Leadership and business ethics (Vol. 25). Springer Science & Business Media.

April 06, 2023

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Learning Retail Management

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