Jeffrey Miller, Jeffrey Strawser
Journal of Critical Incidents
January 01, 2015
Mr. Johnson had a highly valued business relationship with Mr. Elles. Johnson was the executive manager of Kohl’s Corporation’s profitable Children’s Division, while Elles served as Carter’s, Inc., executive vice-president of sales. All seemed to be going well until Elles asked Johnson to sign a letter that misstated the amount of Kohl’s discounts for the prior year’s purchases. These two executives had previously negotiated discounts totaling $16.5 million, which Kohl’s had already taken. The letter stated the amount of approximately $12.1 million, an understatement of $4.4 million. To Johnson, the signing of the letter apparently seemed like a necessary formality in order to maintain Kohl’s favorable discounts. Johnson also desired to keep Kohl’s and particularly its Children’s Division, as cost-effective as possible. Kohl’s financials would not be affected by the letter. What harm could come from signing the letter?