Ethical Dissent and its Consequences

CASE 1: Government Contractor

The engineer determined the existence of fraud in a project his group was doing under a government contract. He went to his superior and raised the issue. We was told it was not his concern and to continue the work. He took it to the next level with the same result. He then resigned in protest.

CASE 2: Danger to People

An engineer determined there was a design flaw in a medical device that could cause the death of young children under certain circumstances. The matter was taken to the supervisors who agreed to correct the design flaw, but refused to issue a recall of the existing units. The engineer took the matter to the Food and Drug Administration.

CASE3: Expert Witness

An engineer is involved as an expert witness in a legal case affecting the environment. In her research she discovers a significant design flaw that could cause considerable damage to the environment. The case is settled out of court with a major payment, but with a non-disclosure agreement. The potential for damage to the environment exists. What does the engineer do?

Author contact information:
Gerald L. Engel
University of Connecticut