Durable Drygoods, Inc. is an active recruiter at Internet University. In fact, they have given the school thousands of dollars over the years. The Company is committed to increasing the diversity of its work force. The company offers a summer internship for students between their junior and senior years in school. They will pay the students a salary during the summer, as well as their tuition, books, and lab fees for their senior year. As a condition of receiving the tuition for the senior year, students are asked to accept an offer of full-time employment with the company at the end of the summer. After acceptance of the offer, if the student revokes it, he/she must repay the tuition, plus interest, to the company.
Sandy Rodriquez accepts an offer of employment with Durable after her summer internship. Durable pays $5,000 to the school for tuition and lab fees, and pays $1,000 to Sandy for books. About four months later, she learns that Drygoods has a poor reputation regarding promotion opportunities for women and Hispanics. She also is offered another opportunity with a different company at a starting salary that is $5,000 more than the Drygoods offer. She tells Drygoods she is not interested in working for them.
Questions to consider:
- What are the ethical or practical implications of making an offer to an individual prior to their senior year?
- What about the ethics of Sandy's renege? Should she have to repay the tuition, lab fees, and the cost of books?
- What help, if any, should career services provide?
- What would you do to salvage the situation?
Steps to Resolution
1. What relevant facts are known?
a. Durable Drygoods has a history of being very engaged with the university - it has actively recruited and has been a strong financial contributor.
b. The company is "committed to increasing the diversity of its work force".
c. The terms of the employment offer are clear - if student interns accept tuition for their senior year, then they are asked to accept an offer of full-time employment before the end of the summer.
d. Sandy accepts Durable's offer and later reneges with another company that offers her $5,000 more than the Durable offer.However, we do not know the following:
e. How does Sandy learn of the company's "poor reputation"?
f. Is Durable's "poor reputation" based on facts - is it accurate?
g. If this is true, what actions has Durable taken to increase promotion opportunities for women and Hispanic employees?
h. Has Sandy continued to interview following her acceptance of employment with Durable?
i. What are the reasons for her reneging of Durable's offer-is the higher offer the reason and she's using their "poor reputation" as an excuse?
2. Identify the NACE Principles in question.
a. Employer Principle #1—"Employment professionals will refrain from any practice that improperly influences and affects job acceptances. Such practices may include undue time pressure for acceptance of employment offers and encouragement of revocation of another employment offer. Employment professionals will strive to communicate decisions to candidates within the agreed-upon time frame."
b. Employer Principle #2—"Employment professionals will know the recruitment and career development field as well as the industry and the employing organization that they represent and work within a framework of professionally accepted recruiting, interviewing, and selection techniques."
c. Employer Principle #3—"Employment professionals will supply accurate information on their organization and employment opportunities. Employing organizations are responsible for information supplied and commitments made by their representatives. If conditions change and require the employing organization to revoke its commitment, the employing organization will pursue a course of action for the affected candidate that is fair and equitable.
d. Career Services Principle #10—"Career services professionals will advise students about their obligations in the recruitment process and establish mechanisms to encourage their compliance. Students' obligations include providing accurate information; adhering to schedules; accepting an offer of employment in good faith; notifying employers on a timely basis of an acceptance of nonacceptance and withdrawing from the recruiting process after accepting an offer of employment; interviewing only with employers for whom they are interested in working and whose eligibility requirements they meet; and requesting reimbursement of only reasonable and legitimate expenses incurred in the recruitment process."
e. Employer Principle #6—"Employment professionals will maintain equal employment opportunity (EEO) compliance and follow affirmative action principles in recruiting activities."
3. What are the ethical or practical implications of making an offer to an individual prior to their senior year?
a. One of the practical implications is that Sandy does not have an opportunity to participate in the traditional on campus interviewing, i.e., information sessions, company visits, etc. during the fall to learn about other and competing companies and their career opportunities. Therefore, Sandy does not make a fully informed decision in accepting employment before examining other opportunities.
b. Sandy, on the other hand, had the advantage of working with the company over the summer where she learned first hand about the company, the people and the work environment. At the same time, the company had the opportunity to learn about Sandy and her capabilities before they extended an offer at the end of the summer. This internship would have been an ideal time to ask and learn about career growth and opportunity for women and Hispanics within the company. If Sandy liked her work experience and felt she had a good opportunity and the company believed Sandy was a fit and had the competencies to be successful, this offer and acceptance appears to be a practical way to hire talent best suited to the job and the organization.
c. Making an offer to an individual prior to their senior year is not unethical. It is practically limiting due to the candidate taking themselves out of the interviewing process and limiting their exposure to other opportunities. The offer to pay for their tuition, books, and lab fees can also be considered as "undue influence" that improperly affects Sandy's job acceptance, especially in view of the fact that these junior-level students may not have the level of maturity to fully evaluate the offer.
4. What about the ethics of Sandy's renege? Should she have to repay the tuition, lab fees, and the cost of books?
Sandy's renege of her employment offer does present an ethical issue for these reasons:
a. Ethical questions exist as to whether Sandy continued to interview for other opportunities after accepting the Durable Goods' job offer or did she take herself out of the interviewing process after she accepted the job with Durable Goods; was this new offer was just very late coming? Did Sandy renege on her job offer from Durable Goods due to the higher salary offered by another company?
b. Sandy should have done the research and asked the right questions about career opportunities for women and Hispanics before accepting the job offer, along with the payment for tuition, lab fees and cost of books. Did Sandy determine in her research whether the company's poor reputation reflected past practices and the company was making a concerted effort to attract and promote talented women and Hispanics, or was the company still engaging in discriminatory practices?
c. Sandy should have to repay the tuition, lab fees and the cost of books if she reneges on her job offer. The question is whether she should have to pay four months of interest on the money. Did she sign a reimbursement agreement or a promissory note? If the interest reimbursement was clearly understood and Sandy agreed to it, the interest payment should also be reimbursed.
5. What help, if any, should career services provide?
a. The Career Services Director, or representative, should consult with both Durable Goods and with the student.
- Initial discussions with the company should focus on the alleged poor reputation regarding promotion opportunities for women and Hispanics to determine if these are, indeed, reflective of past practices or if such discriminatory practices continue. If these allegations are substantive, then it is important to learn what actions Durable is taking to eliminate these discriminatory practices and to increase promotion opportunities? If these allegations are not substantiated by current practices, then Durable should inform prospective candidates of past problems and current remedies to provide accurate and complete information about the company and the job - Employer Principle # 3—"accurate information". In this case, encourage the employer to have a complete outline describing the job and the career growth and opportunities available to prospective hires.
- Next, in a further effort to explain and encourage ethical and practical recruiting methods and to build good working relationships with the employer, career services can advise the company on their responsibility to:
- know acceptable recruiting, interviewing, and selection techniques. Employer Principle #2—"professional knowledge".
- learn about alternative ways to recruit a diverse employee base in the event the company has initiated an affirmative action plan in respect to recruiting and promoting women and Hispanics. Employer Principle #6—"comply with affirmative action principles" "Employment professionals will maintain equal employment opportunity (EEO) compliance and follow affirmative action principles in recruiting activities. . .":, and to
- refrain from "undue influence" in the job offer process.
b. Additionally, Career Services can educate and counsel the student on the ethical and practical recruitment practices in interviewing and accepting job offers by:
- consulting with Sandy to insure that she is making an informed decision based on all the facts of the situation and that she is following ethical guidelines in accepting employment offers. Career Services Principle #10—"student obligations in the recruitment process.
6. What help, if any, should career services provide? As outlined above, Career Services should call and discuss the situation with both the employer and Sandy.
a. Call Sandy and discuss the handling of her acceptance and make her aware of the established ethical standards set forth by the Principles of Professional Conduct. Examine all of the facts about the recruiting and selection process and encourage Sandy to gather all relevant information before accepting a job offer and to make the company aware of her reasons for reneging on their offer. Discuss with Sandy the "opportunity costs" lost for other candidates who may have been runners up for her position with the company. Also outline the ethics of reimbursing the company for any financial outlay the company made as a good faith effort to retain her for employment upon graduation.
b. Encourage the employer to be pro-active and fully disclose all information about the company, the job, the work environment, and the opportunities that are available to avoid future situations and/or confusion where candidates may make decisions based on limited information about their company.
c. Provide the employer with information about the accepted ethical and practical recruiting and hiring techniques established by Career Services.
d. Provide the company, if appropriate, with alternative recruiting techniques to meet their affirmative action goals.