Not Keeping Things “Zipped Up”: A Study of Fairness Regarding Employee Policies in Zip Tech Corporation

Benjamin Anderson, San José State University Caroline Chen, San José State University Meghna Virick, San José State University George Whaley, San José State University
April 13, 2021
North America
Human Resources & Organizational Behavior, Ethics & Social Justice
15 pages
human resources, non-fraternization policies, Business Ethics
Student Price: 
$4.00 (€3.75)
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A routine review of expense reports by the Internal Audit Department at Zip Tech Corporation inadvertently uncovered a workplace romance between an executive and a lower-level employee. Zip Tech had a non-fraternization policy and the employees admitted that they had violated the policy. The Internal Audit Department, Legal Department and the Chief Human Resource Officer (CHRO) were involved in the investigation but the CHRO stepped out of her typical advisory role and made the disciplinary decision. She fired the executive because his actions were a direct violation of the company’s policy, but reprimanded the lower-level employee. The case ends with the conflicted CHRO making her monthly report to the CEO in which she needed to justify her decisions. Readers are asked to assess the actions of Zip Tech decision-makers, the legal and ethical issues involved, and how decisions might have been improved.

Learning Outcomes: 
  1. Evaluate the role that company employment policies play in managing the human resources of firms in the technology industry.
  2. Demonstrate the ability to identify and differentiate the roles of employees in internal audit departments when investigating if an employee has violated company policies.
  3. Analyze a company’s ability to regulate its employees’ behavior in relation to the employees’ Constitutional right to privacy.
  4. Assess the external factors, such as legal issues and media scrutiny, which surround workplace romances and the decision to terminate employees when these romances violate company policies.
  5. Demonstrate the ability to examine and describe the legality and ethics of employee terminations when employees are found to violate corporate policies.

Application: The case is most appropriate in upper-level undergraduate courses in human resources, organizational behavior, or business ethics.