Volume 04, Issue 10
'The Case of the Resources Renegade'
What happens when Ethics receives a tip? This account gives some insight
BY DEBBY ARKELL
Editor's note: This account shows how the Ethics and Business Conduct organization handles a tip about an employee conducting potentially unethical activities, Although the full account is fictitious, it's based on actual events. To help preserve anonymity, all names and some details have been changed.
"I returned to my desk after a meeting and saw John Doe, my cubicle mate, on the phone. I looked at the clock and knew who was on the other end: his wife. He seems to call home nearly every day around this time.
"John was laughing. 'That's funny,' he said. 'What did he do next?' John glanced up and saw me return. 'Oh, I gotta go. I'll pick up the kids like we talked about. Bye.' John hung up the phone.
"'That's the last straw,' I thought. 'Between the long-distance calls home—which I'm sure he's not charging to a personal calling card—the real estate work he's doing on company time, and the pornographic material I've seen on his computer, it's just not right. I have to let someone know.'
"So I went to a privacy room, pulled up the Ethics anonymous e-mail submittal Web page and sent the following e-mail:
"I have observed the following about John Doe (BEMS ID #00000):
"I clicked the Submit button and went back to my desk."
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Ethics Line Advisor Jane Row checked the Ethics anonymous input portal, as she does every morning, and found an allegation of an employee misusing company resources. Row logged the allegation and forwarded it to Mary Smith, John Doe's Regional Ethics Advisor.
Smith contacted Doe's manager and his HR representative to see whether they were aware of similar allegations about Doe's use of company resources. Neither knew of any such concerns. Smith decided that given the allegations made, Boeing Security should further investigate the matter.
She contacted Security, gave them the details of the e-mail and requested an internal investigation. Smith made it clear that because the information was provided anonymously, it wouldn't be possible to contact the informant for additional background.
Boeing Security Investigator Pete Peterson went to work. Peterson reviewed long-distance phone records for Doe's assigned work phone and found 163 long-distance calls made over 42 work days. Ninety-three of these calls were to Doe's family members and averaged 5.43 minutes per call.
Peterson then reviewed Doe's e-mail account. Looking over a one-month period, he retrieved four "Inbox" messages and four "Sent" messages related to Doe's real estate business. Security also retrieved 26 deleted messages related to real estate activities during a recent seven-day period. But he found no evidence of pornographic or inappropriate material in Doe's e-mail history.
Peterson called Doe for an interview. Doe admitted to receiving, on occasion, inappropriate e-mail from friends. "But when an e-mail with inappropriate material (including pornographic material) comes in, I immediately delete the message," Doe said. "I instruct those senders not to send me e-mail containing inappropriate material."
Doe admitted receiving e-mail at work from his real estate clients. He said most of the mail related to this is "FYI information" and that most of his realtor work is done on his home computer. The employee also admitted calling long distance to his home each day to reach his children before they go to school, and occasionally he called his wife's place of work.
Peterson noted Doe's responses and concluded Security's portion of the investigation. Peterson sent the data to Ethics Advisor Smith, who reviewed the findings with Doe's HR representative. Human Resources then reviewed the facts with line management and an Employee Corrective Action Coordinator, taking into consideration Doe's work history and corrective action history.
They determined Doe had indeed inappropriately used company resources. Together they reviewed the categories of misconduct identified in BPI-2616, "Employee Corrective Action," to determine the appropriate response relative to the severity of the offense. (To see the text of this Business Process Instruction, visit http://policyplus.boeing.com/PS/PDF/DDD/BPI-2616.pdf (internal link only) on the Boeing Web.)
The HR representative informed Ethics Advisor Smith of the results of the corrective action review and assisted Doe's manager in administering corrective action.
Doe received a verbal warning regarding his use of the company phone for personal business and for his use of the company computer for non-Boeing business. Doe also was warned that any similar future actions in these areas would result in further corrective action, including suspension or termination. In addition, Doe's supervisor gave a presentation regarding proper use of company resources during a staff meeting following the investigation.
Doe did not receive corrective action for his receipt of pornographic materials. The investigation determined that Doe handled these materials appropriately.
It is important to note that because the tipster provided the tip anonymously, advisors were unable to follow up with the informant on the outcome of the investigation. Had the tipster identified himself or herself, the Regional Ethics Advisor would have notified that person of the investigation's outcome.
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