Week 5 Case Study



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Case 1: “Dairy Mart”

Text: The text of this case is located in the McGraw-Hill Supplementary Volume in the section titled, “Sexual Harassment, Free Speech, or . . . ” (page 27)


1. Does the presence of these magazines constitute the sexual harassment of Ms. Stanley?


2. Which fact about this case weakens Ms. Stanley’s claim that she is a victim of sexual harassment? (That is, what fact about this case, if it were changed, would strengthen Ms. Stanley’s claim that she is being harassed?)

Case 2: “Technological Equipment Corporation”

Text: The text of this case is located in the McGraw-Hill Supplementary Volume in the section titled, “Sexual Harassment, Free Speech, or . . . ” (page 30).




1. Ethically speaking, is Eisenfeld a victim of sexual harassment? If so, then what kind(s) of harassment has he been subjected to?


2. Compare and contrast this case with the more stereotypical cases in which female employees are subjected to treatment that is similar to that to which Eisenfeld is subjected here.




Case 3: “Without Recourse”

Text: The text of this case is located in the McGraw-Hill Supplementary Volume in the section titled, “Three Short Cases on Sexual Harassment” (page 41).




1. Is this a case of sexual harassment? Why or why not?



Case 4: “The Risk of Knowledge”

Text: The text of this case is located in the McGraw-Hill Supplementary Volume in the section titled, “Three Short Cases on Sexual Harassment” (page 42).




1. Is this a case of sexual harassment? Why or why not?


2. What are the most important similarities and differences between this case and “Without Recourse” (the previous case)?



Case 5: “Jesse Green”

Text: The text of this case is located in the McGraw-Hill Supplementary Volume in the section titled, “Personal Ethics Dilemmas” (page 48).




1. Would either (or both) Alex or Leslie have a legitimate complaint about having been treated unfairly if they were fired once their work was done? Why or why not?


2. Have Alex and/or Leslie been harmed by the way Primier has treated them? Has their autonomy been respected?



Case 6: “She Snoops to Conquer”

Text: The text for this case is located in Shaw, 9.3, page 356-357 (8th edition: page 346).






1. Has the store invaded the privacy of its workers? Why or why not?



2. What, if anything, should Fanuchi and Katwalski do with the other information (the information unrelated to the thefts)?


3. How might the employees be expected to react if they learned of Fanuchi’s and Katwalski’s activities?



Case 7: “Speaking Out about Malt”

Text: The text for this case is located in Shaw, Case 8.3, page 320-321 (8th edition: page 311).




1. Is Mary Davis correct in asserting that Whitewater was invading her right to freedom of speech? Why or why not?


2. Was Davis acting disloyally?

3. Would it be morally legitimate for Whitewater to fire Davis if she went ahead with her speaking engagement and condemned Malt Liquor?



Case 8: “Making Up Is Hard To Do (The idea for this case is borrowed from case 16 of Raymond Pfeiffer and Ralph Forsberg, Ethics on the Job: Cases and Strategies [Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth, 2000])


Text: MidWest Motors is a large automotive dealership which sells several lines of foreign-made sports-cars and four-wheel drive vehicles. The dealership has had a very laid back image, stressing low-pressure sales techniques by dealers who really knew the cars they were selling. The sales associates typically dressed more blue collar than white collar, and this, it was felt, made both the dealer and the customer more relaxed.

Hannah Jones is one of only two female sales associates at MidWest Motors. Known for a no-nonsense, down-to-earth, tell-it-like-it is approach to her job, she has been quite successful. In fact, two recently hired sales associates have been assigned to her as an informal mentor. Although she is not the most successful sales associate, she is consistently above average in terms of total sales. The dealership caters to a specialty market in which customers generally know what they are looking for, and Hannah’s approach has always been to understand what the customer wants, and to steer him or her to a vehicle that will best fit his or her needs. This honest approach has won Hannah a loyal base of repeat customers over the years.

At a recent meeting of the owners and top management of the dealership, it was decided that the image of the company needed to be updated. Sports cars were becoming more important to the overall sales of the company, and the demographic of the customers for them was becoming more upscale. In addition, with SUV craze, the four-wheel-drive customers were also becoming more upscale as well. In short, the typical customer was becoming more and more likely to be a yuppie than a gearhead. The managers and owners had agreed that the environment of the dealership should change to reflect this change in the customer base. As a resulting memo to the employees put it, “We here at MidWest Motors sell sophisticated vehicles to sophisticated customers. It’s time to make sure that our image lives up to that.” The memo went on to list a number of actions that would be implemented immediately. Most of these were cosmetic changes meant to give the dealership a more sophisticated atmosphere.

One of these proposed changes was cosmetic in a more literal sense. The memo state that “Effective immediately, all employees who deal with the public will present a sophisticated appearance. Men will wear ties, long-sleeved shirts, and dress slacks. Jackets are optional but encouraged. Women will wear appropriate business attire (skirts recommended but slacks are acceptable), and all women will wear appropriate makeup.”

There was an immediate groan from many of the sales staff when this memo was posted. Several of the “old timers” felt that the new image betrayed the company’s roots as a down-to-earth dealership catering to no-nonsense, mechanically inclined customers who saw past appearances and appreciated dealers who focused on substance. A few of the newer associates felt swindled because they had originally been attracted by the “laid back” work atmosphere and would now have to dress in less comfortable, more stuffy clothes. Hannah had a problem with the makeup requirement.

As the criticisms of the new policy piled up, the sales staff decided to talk to the sales manager, Mr. Murphy. Unfortunately, the meeting did not go well. Although Mr. Murphy was normally a good-natured boss, he was having a bad day that day. The fact that nearly all of his sales staff filed into his office and started complaining at the same time put him into a very defensive state of mind. Although Murphy did not really agree with everything on the memo, he knew that if he started to make any exceptions, everyone else would be on his case complaining of favoritism. Seeing no alternative, and feeling ganged up on, Murphy dug in his heels. “Look, you may not like it, and I may not like it, but it is company policy, and it’s my job to enforce it. You guys are all here on an “at will” basis, and if you choose not to follow the policy, then you know where the door is. Upper management has decided that the new image will be good for the company, and until they decide otherwise, you’re all just going to grow up and dress nice.” Although no one was happy about the memo or the meeting, most of the sales staff realized that their jobs at MidWest were just too good to quit over a dress code.

A few days later, however, there was trouble again. Hannah had been complying with the new requirements–almost. For the past few days, she had been reporting to work in attire that could best be described as dress casual–Dockers-style pants and blouse. The problem–from management’s point of view–was that she was not wearing makeup. A couple of the younger male sales associates–still uncomfortable in the new ties they had rushed out to buy–had noticed this and had commented about it within earshot of Mr. Murphy. Murphy called Hannah into his office. “Look, Hannah,” he explained, “I’m not a huge fan of the new dress code either; I always figure that a comfortable sales force is a productive sales force, and some of the new requirements clearly make some people uncomfortable. But my job is to enforce the requirements, whether I like them or not. And if I start making exception to an unpopular policy, it’s going to undermine my position. People will think I am playing favorites. Now I think that you are a very attractive woman–I’m not hitting on you now–with or without makeup. But the policy says that guys have to wear ties, and women have to wear makeup. The other two female associates don’t have a problem with this; neither do the secretaries. I just can’t make an exception for you–it wouldn’t be fair to everyone else.”

Hannah replied, “Mr. Murphy, makeup is not like a tie. I’ve been all the way dressed up before and still not needed makeup. I have never like the stuff and to be honest, it makes me feel kinda weird. I guess I’ve always been a bit of a tomboy. In fact, that’s part of why I think I am good at this job–the customers don’t see me as a woman so much as they see me as someone who knows cars. I grew up in a house full of boys–four brothers and no sisters–and my mom was sort of a 60s hippie feminist who taught me that makeup was just one more way that male society teaches women to cater to male desires. I don’t know if I believe all that, but I’ve never felt comfortable with it. Heck, I’d be a lot more comfortable with axle grease on my face than makeup. Is there any way you could get the company to back off?”

“I see your point,” Murphy replied, “but my hands are tied. If I let you out of this, then the men are going to say the same things about their ties. I’ll have a little revolution on my hands, and I just can’t have that. I think I’ve been a pretty good boss, and part of that involves being fair. I just can’t grant you an exception to a part of the policy that you don’t like unless I can grant everyone else an exception to whatever part they don’t like. And if I do that, I’m going to catch hell from my bosses. I’m really sorry, but if you want to keep working here, you’ll just have to follow the rules.”





1. Does the new dress code discriminate against women? Why or why not?


2. Does the dress code violate any other of Hannah’s rights?