Tricky family work situation


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:

  1. 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?

  2. 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.

I would make the request in writing, via email:

"Dear boss, recent audits have show that the 3 widgets in the pleasntville office belong to joe’s XYZ corp.

Please advise re resolution of this issue."

There is a chance that this was part of a settlement or other arrangement.

When you have a response in writing, if you do not feel comfortable with the answer, ask for a meeting with your boss’s boss.

I agree… put your request in WRITING (email is perfect)… then move it up the chain of command if you don’t get the proper response from your boss.

Not sure this is the “ethical” thing to do, but if you are worried about keeping your job, I would do nothing. It’s between your boss and the other company.

If you are very unlikely going to get fired, then I would go ahead with the letter idea by PP’s.

How old or how useful is the equipment? If the equipment is outdated, the former company may be glad not to have to deal with it.

Thanks for the replies. The problem is that he is “the boss”. There is no one above him, plus he is a close relative, which further complicates the matter. So, emails are out in this case. Also, the equipment is worth at least $1,000 so I think the other company would want it back, even though they are a large corporation. I feel like doing nothing is wrong, just like it would be if you didn’t turn in your kid for robbing a bank. The probability of getting fired is low, but I don’t know what to do if I bring it to his attention and nothing is done about it. I can’t stand unresolved situations like this, plus I want him to do the right thing. One angle I could use is that we do in fact need the floor space and this equipement is taking up room. Does any one have any other thoughts?

So, your boss is the owner of the company?

I would ask your Priest about your moral responsiblity.

At work, I would simply ask the owner for his reccomend on making more floor space, perhaps check the price of a storage unit.

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