While the decision to not promote Walmart Vice President (David Tovar) may have been an ethical one, it could be argued that the decision to not terminate him was an unethical one. Using the seven-step Velasquez Model along ethical wisdom, the main philosophy of Socrates, this case study will aim to show why terminating David Tovar after the discovery of his academic dishonesty would have been the ethical decision.

  1. What Are The Facts?

The facts of the matter are as follows

  • David Tovar was not given a promotion at Walmart once it was discovered he had been dishonest about complete his degree from the University of Delaware.
  • David Tovar claims he only discovered he was a “couple credits short” after attending his class’ graduation.
  • On David Tovar’s original application to Walmart 8 years prior, he had listed that he had earned a degree from University of Delaware.
  • Once discovered, Tovar retorted that he had never specifically said that he had graduated from University of Delaware, only that he had attended. He denied having any memory of what he disclosed on his original resume.
  • Tovar has since contacted University of Delaware and will take the remaining needed classes to complete his degree.
  • In a similar case in 2012, a chief executive was forced to resign from Yahoo under similar situations.
  • What Are The Ethical Issues?
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Following the philosophies of Socrates, the decision by Walmart in the case of David Tovar faces some ethical dilemmas. “In Essence, Socrates believed that virtue is knowledge and that happiness depends upon having this knowledge, which he believed to include courage, piety, and justice; so if individuals choose not to adhere to these virtues, they are really not wise (45)”.

               To Socrates, knowledge is equal to virtue, and in that virtue, there is a knowledge to follow through with courage and justice. The original requirements of the Walmart position required a degree. It is neither virtuous nor courageous to ignore this policy eight years down the line. This is especially true when you consider the fate of the Yahoo chief executive (Scott Thompson) who was forced to resign under a similar situation.

               On the flip side, Walmart overlooked this for over 8 years. Is it fair to say that Tovar acted with knowledge and courage by feigning a college degree as he rose through a company? Following the ethics laid out by Socrates, this would not be a trait of piety or just (compared to those who work for degrees honestly) and therefore, would likely fall as unethical in the view of Socrates philosophy.

  • What Are Some Alternatives?

Based on the main philosophy of Socrates, ethical wisdom, there really are no other alternatives to termination. As Seton Hall University Professor Albert Hakim describes it “the recognition of the fundamental importance of the ethical in the life of the man (humankind) and dong good as the basic principle of human activity (44)”

               Basically, the foundation of an ethical life is doing as good as basic human decency. Lying about qualifications in a resume is a clear breach of basic human decency. That being said, there could be exceptions, such as a family issue in Tovar’s life that forced him to never reach the completion of his degree. If this were the case, the theory could work ethically in his favor. However these speculations are not given in the facts.

  • Who Are Some Of The Stake Holders?

In reality there are two, possible three stakeholders. One would obviously be that of Tovar. He is facing either a promotion, stagnation, further education, or termination. The second stakeholder is the entity of Walmart, with their integrity on the line. Their decision will set the tone for how future and current employee believe in severity of the rules.

A third possible stakeholder would be the integrity of society in general. A large corporation like Walmart could make a National statement by ingraining the dishonesty of an employee on his original resume.

  • What Is The Most Ethical Of All Of Your Alternatives?

Following the philosophy of Socrates, in the path of ethical wisdom. Firing David Tovar is the most ethical, if not the only, alternative. His actions, as well as those of Walmart’s, are unethical I accordance to the following of ethical wisdom.

  • What Are the Tradeoffs For Selecting The Most Ethical Alternative?

Friends may be lost. Trust among small bonds in the company may be broken. Tovar may be heartbroken. His family and children may suffer. It is a tough reality but the path of ethical wisdom set by Socrates does not take well to dishonesty in any form

  • What Action Would I Take?

Immediate termination of David Tovar. Severance package with the continuation of his stock options. This is as a thanks to what he has provided to the company in eight years. It would be equally unethical to ignore his contributions to the company if we were to stay consistent with Socrates idea of ethical wisdom.


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