Your company used to do work for another company, but the business relationship ended several years ago. Recently you found out that some equipment that is owned by the other company was not returned to them and they have no idea that your company still has it. You find out that your boss was adamant that the equipment not be returned to the other company. Assuming that there is no legitimate reason to hold on to the equipment, you have to try to return the equipment to the rightful owner. Here are my possible solutions:
Confront your boss and tell him that he should return the equipment to the rightful owner. One complicating issue is that you have a very high probability that your boss will refuse to return it. Then what do you do? Threaten to call the other company if he doesn’t or quit? What do you do in a moral situation that involves someone else doing the right thing, but has a very low probability of working out the right way? Do you be a martyr here and suffer the consequences?
Don’t tell your boss and send the equipment back to the other company while the boss is on vacation. The other company will likely not be angry and would be happy to get the equipment back. I see a problem here since you are going around an authority figure and breaking the chain of command. If the boss finds out afterward, so what, it’s not like he can say you did anything illegal. He is the one who did something illegal.
What is the right thing to do here? Further complicating this scenario is that your boss is a close relative. I look forward to your replies.