When Integrity Breaks Down In Front Of You

Here is a great question from an EntreLeadership Podcast listener:

I work in a chiropractor’s office. One of the up-and-coming chiropractors has done some really unethical things with some checks and cash that were in his possession. Some of these are actually illegal, and he could be prosecuted for what he has done. He has been spoken to about the issues, but still continues to lie about circumstances surrounding these checks. After listening/reading Dave’s materials, it is my opinion that this young man should be given the proverbial “box,” escorted out the door and released from his position. However, I am not sure the owner of the practice is going to let him go.

My question for you is concerning my course of action if, in fact, the owner does not fire this guy. I am part of the management team and have a real problem working with a liar/stealer/deceiver. I understand the owner has every right to make whatever decision he feels is best for his company. However, I am very uncomfortable working with this type of person and in an environment that allows this type of person to stay on the team. What is the right thing for me to do if this staff member is allowed to stay on the team? I appreciate your input!

For me, there’s only one answer: Do what you believe to be morally correct. If the owner refuses to let him go, then you have two people with integrity issues. Yes, you hate working around someone who is stealing, but it’s almost worse to be working for someone who is sanctioning that kind of incompetence.

Not only is the owner’s head in the sand as far as what kind of effect this is having on his business, but he also doesn’t realize how it’s affecting his team. Sanctioned incompetence demoralizes, as we can see by this question. Am I saying that other companies don’t have issues? Of course not. But allowing someone to do something illegal is beyond ridiculous.

Champions won’t stay in that environment long, if at all. Find a place that values both the customer and the team, and work there. Only you know if you can and are willing make a quick transition or not.

Question: What would you do if you were in this situation?

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Meet Chris LoCurto


Chris has a heart for changing lives by helping people discover the life and business they really want.

Decades of personal and leadership development experience, as well as running multi-million dollar businesses, has made him an expert in life and business coaching. personality types, and communication styles.

Growing up in a small logging town near Lake Tahoe, California, Chris learned a strong work ethic at home from his full-time working mom. He began his leadership and training career in the corporate world, starting but at E'TRADE.

32 thoughts on “When Integrity Breaks Down In Front Of You”

  1. There’s something going on there that is even worse than sanctioning incompetence. The owner is sanctioning criminal activity. And unfortunately, if that is occurring, it may trickle down and on people who are not involved.

    You need to take some action to do what it is morally correct and within the confines of your moral compass.

    1. “The owner is sanctioning criminal activity.”

      From the original question: “He has been spoken to about the issues, but still continues to lie about circumstances surrounding these checks.”

      It seems that the owner has questioned the person, and the person has lied to him about what is happening. If the owner is being lied to, how can he be “sanctioning criminal activity”?

      1. The law doesn’t allow for ignorance or incompetence. If the owner is only asking questions, and not actually digging in and discovering the truth, by is inaction he is sanctioning criminal activity.
        By her question, he’s only talked to the guy, not gone to great lengths to prove him right or wrong. Does that make sense?

      1. I messed up – I meant what does she say about this job when she is being interviewed for the next one. “My employer was sanctioning illegal activity” could really get complicated, especially in a small field!

  2. When I was working for a software company years ago, the software I was in charge of implementing would break down during a certain point before we went live. The head of sales would come over to us project managers and tell us to make sure that the software went live – even with the problems. He was more concerned about upselling customers to the next product in the cycle than addressing the software issues.

    When clients would ask about the problems, we were told to lie about it. I felt sick about it. I would voice my concerns, but no one listened. Not my manager, not his manager, nor the head of sales. I dreaded going to work each day and was relieved when I was given the pink slip.

    I look back now and ask myself why didn’t I just get up and leave. Why didn’t I just quit. Why did it take a layoff for me to finally stand true to my values. Looking back I can say that I didn’t because the job paid my bills. It afforded me a lifestyle that I quite enjoyed.

    It’s so easy to say what we would do if the situation is placed before us. I read it on this blog, I hear it in a conversation and I’m vocal about what I’ll do and how I’ll do it. But situation ethics is a troubling thing. We really don’t know how we’ll react until we’re actually a character in the drama unfolding around us.

    Now that I’m self-employed, I have the confidence to say that I’d never put up with that situation ever again. If someone’s ethical compass points south of mine, I’ll exit the relationship in a hurry. I hope we reach a point where our values in the workplace far outweigh the lifestyle that our salaries help us enjoy.

    1. That’s what it comes down to. What does your ethical/moral compass tell you to do. For me, I trust God is going to take care of me when I make the right choices. For others, they may operate out of fear, which may keep them there and looking the other direction. Like you say, now that you’re on the other side with hindsight, it’s WAY easier to make the decision now, then back then. Once you’re in it, it’s a different story.
      Thanks Leesa for the great comment, and way to go becoming self-employed!!

  3. ” Find a place that values both the customer and the team, and work there.”

    One trouble is that a lot of areas are nearing 10% unemployment, I was recently in a similar situation, and ended up quitting without a job, because staying cost too much of myself. Now, I am in very real danger of being homeless because of my principles. While I like this answer, it assumes a lot; the ideal place may not present itself, and may not hire you when it does appear. Unless you’re willing to be unemployed in the mean time, you’re in a place where you have to deal with the dishonesty.

    1. Putting food on your table is an absolute must. If you are a Christian, you are to be in this world, not of this world. Are there times you may have to work with dishonest people? Yes. That’s why I wondered if she has the ability to transition quickly or not. Hopefully she can. In my early 20’s, I was on the ground floor of E*Trade. There was one thing I was certain of, if they ever did anything illegal, I would get caught up in it even if I wasn’t involved. Therefore, I would be more likely to do whatever it takes to get away from that situation, as opposed to something not criminal. ☺
      Thank you Annie for a great comment. And I’m praying for you employment!!

  4. It’s my belief that the only time our bank accounts, success in business, and possessions will be discussed with God will be regarding 1) How we got it and 2) What we did with it. So often we forget, the things of this world were never ours to own, only to enjoy and use…
    And due to similar circumstances, I’ve also been imprisoned in jobs and circumstances such as the one described. I know how it feels when your captor is your need to provide for your family and the jail cell is an 8×8 cubicle. But during that time, I learned that my attitude played such an important role in 1) Changing the environment I found myself in 2) Changing the way I viewed my environment I found myself in and 3) The speed it took me to get out of that environment.
    I know life isn’t going to serve ice-cream and apple pie every day. Sometimes it decides to serve fish liver casserole. 🙂 And for some reason, life may even decide to serve it for a month, three months, or even six months straight! But what do I learn during this time? 1) While fish liver casserole tastes awful, there does seem to be nutritional benefit from it. How do I know this? It is keeping me alive. 2) After a while, I accept that I can’t always change what life wants to serve me or for how long but it can’t stop me from thinking about ice-cream and apple pie. And just like that, the taste of the fish liver casserole changes. And that’s how attitude works. It’s really the only thing we can control sometimes.
    I believe Dyer said it best: “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change…”

      1. HA! Recipe to follow. Would probably be a great way to get the turkey taste out of your mouth tomorrow! Free Tip: At your family gathering, if a favorite dish is being served that you want to ensure leftovers will be available, just place a tag on it reading: Fish Liver Casserole.

        “Fish Liver Casserole?? But it looks just like pumpkin pie!”

  5. What would I do? Cover it in prayer – praying for wisdom and wise counsel….and for deliverance from this job! This is a tough one. Who knows but what by remaining for at least a while- he is a testimony to what TRUTH looks like.

  6. I have been in these types of situations several times and it’s not easy. Ultimately it comes down to trusting in your gut. I heard a quote once that says ” If prayer is us talking to God then intuition is God talking to us.” I am not good at pretending or avoiding problems, so what I would do is take my complaints up the chain to my managers and then the owner. If they give me some excuses or fail to act then I know what my next step is- leave the company. I can’t and won’t work for an organization where I have to sacrifice my principles to get ahead. God helps those who help themselves.

    1. Anybody that quotes one of my all time favourite bible verse “God helps those who help themselves” gets an A plus in my books. I love your way of thinking, right up my alley.

  7. My gut reaction is to take myself out of the situation as fast as i can…but being realistic (Especially with little kids that need to eat every single day), consider planning my exit, but with a definate time table. At this point, i’m assuming that that owner is not willing to change his stand.

  8. I would definitely pray about it but while I was praying I would probably look for other employment options. If nothing changed soon then I would have an exit plan in place.

  9. This post made me sick! The specifics are different, but the situation too close to home for me. I held a position with a company who loved the fact that I was firm, fair and consistent while being honest and sticking up for them in everything, not mattering if you were the CEO, Presidents, Employee or Customer. They loved me as long as it was in their favor, that I handled “the dirty work”, was prompt at dealing with issues, would take the blame for the big guys, but when it was not in their favor or I shed light on a legal ramification from their decision, it suddenly was unacceptable behavior. I wish I had had the nerve to walk out sooner, because the stress of working for a boss that liked to create his own legal rules, would do everything to walk over the lines without getting caught, appreciate the fact that I was black and white about regulations when he choose to follow them, gripe at me but not make changes or be the leader he knew he needed to be, tell me to shred the evidence, instruct me to lie to the other partner, tell one person one thing and another something different, etc. I have no regrets about how I did my job there, I served as unto my Lord knowing that the time would come and I would not work there anymore. In the end, my honesty cost me my job and I had no severance package or warning, however I just thanked God I was debt free and had a small business on the side that I now could take and grow full time. It was a blessing in disguise! God will prepare your journey and path if you ask Him to lead you. It might not all make sense at the time, but in the end it will. I will pray for this person that they will be able to see clearly what they need to do and have the insight on how to deal with it and the courage to forge ahead!

  10. Agree with your great insights Chris! At the end of the day, it is the question of ehtics in our life. We need to ensure we do not deviate from ehtics in our life. “Champions won’t stay in that environment long, if at all.” — That’s a golden advice Chris.

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