A number of years ago I was involved with a situation nearly identical to the one below. It came down to deciding between firing a person who didn’t deserve to be fired or closing down an agency that served more than 1,000 clients.

It took several months of board meetings with the executive director to reach a decision. But I won’t tell you the outcome. Decide for yourself.

A private, not-for-profit mental health agency receives most of its funds from the county, a government that has been under investigation for years for its corrupt hiring practices. The county Department of Mental Health demands that the agency replace its present financial officer, who has served loyally and well for many years, with a person chosen by the county. The Department of Mental Health threatens to cut off the agency’s funding if it doesn’t comply. Without government funds the agency will go bankrupt.

If you were the director of the agency, would you fire the present financial officer and replace her with the county’s choice?

PS I use this story in my business ethics classes and students are often deeply divided.

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