The Reluctant Security Guard
David Tuff is a security guard of Blue Mountain which is a company that manages and operates retail shopping malls. As a security guard he is required by law to report to the police all serious accidents and crimes, including felonies, occurring within the premises in which he is working. However, fourteen months after his date of employment Blue Mountain created a new company policy requiring the security guards to escort intoxicated persons, including drunk drivers, from the parking lots onto the public road. The company policy did not instruct the officers to arrest the drivers or contact the police.
Tuff complained against this new company policy. He says that it is contrary to the oath he swore to uphold as required by law. When Tuff realized that the company intended to make no changes, he revealed the policy, which he deemed as disreputable, to the media. The result was public disgust against Blue Mountain. By going to the media Tuff violated company policy which prohibits employees from talking to the media about company policies. In the end Tuff was fired for violating this company policy. The question that needs to be answered is did David Tuff take the correct action by blowing the whistle?
My answer is yes. I believe that Tuff did the right thing by blowing the whistle and if I were placed in a position such as his I would do the same thing. The remainder of this paper will be an explanation as to why I believe he took the correct action. Before Tuff blows the whistle he needs to consider who is going to be affected by his decision and how the decision will affect them. Tuff, Blue Mountain Company – security guards, other employees, and stockholders, and the general public in the areas surrounding the retail shopping malls are all major stakeholders.
David Tuff has a lot at stake. Should a sense of security be one of his most important values Tuff’s values may be conflicting. If financial and physical security are important to him, blowing the whistle will put this at risk. Tuff could lose his job, his life could become public knowledge – every aspect of his life would be gone through with a fine tooth comb to find anything to discredit him, and his life could be threatened if he blows the whistle. However, if protecting other security officers and keeping the public safe is important, keeping quiet will conflict with his value of security.
Anytime Tuff escorts a drunk driver off the Blue Mountain Premises he will have to live with the fact that that driver could very well kill another innocent human being. If loyalty is important to Tuff the choice to blow the whistle, again, could cause some conflict between his values. If Tuff remains loyal to the company, he will not blow the whistle and will abide by the new policy. If He remains loyal to himself he could, again, not blow the whistle and abide by the new policy. Keeping the new policy within the confines of his work would mean keeping his job.
To be loyal to his fellow security officers and to the public Tuff will need to blow the whistle. Blowing the whistle will take the pressure of having to abide by the new policy off the shoulders of his fellow security officers. It will also ensure the safety of the people who live and travel around the shopping malls. The fact that Blue Mountain employs licensed security guards, to me, means that the company holds security and safety in high regards. If Blue Mountain views safety as an important company value, the exposure would definitely contradict what the company has stood for.
Should Tuff expose Blue Mountain the company’s previous concerns about safety would be discredited. Should the public find out that the company is intentionally having its security guards escort drunk drivers onto public roads this discovery could and probably would ruin the company’s reputation; therefore causing serious financial problems and possibly bankruptcy. It is reasonable to assume that profitability is a highly regarded value for Blue Mountain, as it is for most other companies. The exposure of this new policy could, in the end, cost the company a lot of money.
Should Blue Mountain’s new policy be made public it is possible they would lose business based on the company’s ease and ability to put others at risk. There is also the very real chance that the company could be sued for any accidents that resulted from their behavior. These events would have a very large impact on the future financials of the company. The security officers and other employees of Blue Mountain could also be affected. Should the information about the company’s new policy be made public it is possible that the local police would revoke the license of all the security guards for failure to comply with license requirements.
The loss of their license could and most likely would result in the loss of their jobs. As mentioned above it is also possible that consumers would cease to shop at the malls owned by Blue Mountain, which could result in large financial losses and could lead to store closures which would lead to employee layoffs. As far as the stockholders are concerned, just the nature of investment dictates what they value, and that is the return on their investment. Should Tuff blow the whistle, it would be safe to assume that stocks prices would fall, causing the stockholders to lose money.
The last of the stakeholders to consider is the general public living and commuting in the areas surrounding the retail shopping malls owned by Blue Mountain. There is a real possibility that any one of the drunk drivers escorted off the Blue Mountain property and onto the public roads could kill innocent people. Whether it is a pedestrian walking down the sidewalk or a car full of people the fact is they are all at put at risk when there are drunk drivers on the road. David Tuff should blow the whistle and expose Blue Mountain.
According to Richard DeGeroge there are three conditions that need to be met for whistle-blowing to be considered ethically permissible. The first condition is that a threat of serious harm must be met (Desjardin page 171). Serious harm is a factor. There is the real possibility that one of the drunk drivers escorted onto the public roads could run a red light and get into an accident with another car or swerve off the road and hit a pedestrian; the possibilities of what could happen are endless.
The second criteria states, “The whistle blower should first seek to prevent the harm more immediately through channels internal to the firm. ” (Desjardin page 171) Tuff expressed his dissatisfaction of the new company policy to his immediate superiors. The only thing tuff received in return for his display of concern was angry remarks and a threat of losing his job. His immediate supervisor Director of Security Manuel Hernandez told him “he should worry less about his license and more about his paycheck. As far as the third criteria, “if possible, the whistle blower should exhaust all internal procedures for preventing the harm”. (Desjardin page 171) Tuff expressed his concerns to his supervisors on several occasions and sometimes several times in one day. It is clear that the company plans to stick to its new policy and that tuff has exhausted all means of internally preventing the harm that could come about. It is because Tuff and his situation meet all three of these criteria that I think he should blow the whistle.
One obvious rebuttal Blue Mountain Company, and others, may have in regards to Tuff blowing the whistle is clearly stated in the case. Manuel Hernandez makes the statement that “most drunks do not weave down the road and hit someone. ” There is no way to prove that any one drunk driver escorted off the Blue Mountain property will cause and accident with another individual and cause serious harm or damage. However, the question that should be asked is how much is that risk of not knowing worth? It may also be said, that the personal risk to Tuff himself is not worth the risk.
Again, there is no way to prove that any one drunk driver escorted off the property will cause any potential harm to innocent people. According the Complicity Theory (discussed in class), Tuff should keep this new policy within the confines of his job. This is based on the fact that by telling he would be putting himself and others in jeopardy. Tuff, his fellow security officers, and other employees of Blue Mountain could lose their job. It is also based on the fact that there is no way to be sure that, should the policy be followed, lives would be put at risk.
Regardless of the fact that there is no way to prove that lives are being put at risk the company is still gambling with human life. Tuff should blow the whistle, even if it costs him and possibly others their jobs. Would the managers of Blue Mountain Company continue to keep the policy in place if they knew who would be affected by their decision to implement the new policy? Would they keep the policy if they could put a face to someone involved in an accident that could have been prevented if they had listened to Tuff and removed it?