Ellison Courtley is a staff accountant for Bronson, Burkes & Hunt, CPAs. During his second year on the audit staff, Ellison becomes quite frustrated with the number of overtime hours required for his job. He dislikes the firm’s policy of rewarding additional vacation time in lieu of overtime pay. Ellison also believes that he is underpaid. One of his roommates works for another CPA firm and earns a salary that is nearly 10% higher than what Ellison is paid by Bronson, Burkes & Hunt.
Ellison developed a plan for taking matters into his own hands and “leveling the playing field” with respect to his compensation. He is maximizing his payout under the firm’s policy of reimbursing job-related expenses. By inflating the mileage on client-related travel, duplicating receipts for parking, and borrowing receipts from his roommates for so-called “overtime meals”, Ellison has been able to increase his take-home pay by about 8%.
Ellison shared his strategy with Shannen Folkes, who works as the staff accountant on some of the same audit engagements with Ellison. Shannen has experienced some of the same frustrations as Ellison with regard to her paycheck, and she knows first-hand that Ellison is a hard worker who is deserving of increased compensation. Yet, Shannen is reluctant to alter her expense report for fear of getting caught. When she expresses her concern to Ellison, he criticizes her for not being a team player. He tries to convince her that there is less chance of getting caught if all of the engagement team members’ expense reports are within a similar range. Besides, Ellison argues that even this elevated level of expense reimbursement does not make up for the firm’s substandard pay structure.

a. Which ethical orientation is Ellison demonstrating? Which level of moral development is exemplified by Ellison’s behavior? Explain.
b. Assume Shannen is reflecting on Ellison’s behavior. In addition to the risk of getting caught, she considers the impact to the firm if all of its associates implemented a similar plan. She also thought about the inequity to those who strictly followed the firm’s policies. As a result of these considerations, if Shannen decided to report Ellison’s unethical actions to one of the firm’s partners, which level of moral development would she be demonstrating? Explain.
c. According to the “greatest good” philosophy, do you think Shannen could be justified in joining Ellison in this method of maximizing expense reimbursements? Present arguments for opposing perspectives under this philosophy.

  • CreatedJanuary 21, 2015
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