The setting is a rural municipality somewhere in Canada. Let’s call it District X.
Using her work email and office computer, the clerk-treasurer for the Municipality of District X sent a season’s greeting e-card to all employees. She chose an inappropriate image for the front of the card. It was a depiction the clerk-treasurer thought was funny but was highly inappropriate in a work setting. Without thinking of consequences, one employee who received the e-card immediately forwarded it to colleagues in several other municipalities.
In turn, some recipients copied the e-card to their social media accounts. Before long a season’s greeting e-card from a clerk-treasurer intended for employees in one municipality, had made its way to several thousand public service workers throughout Canada and around the world. Each time the e-card was forwarded, the file displayed the original sender’s electronic address (clerktreasurer@MunofDistrictX.ca).
Two of the clerk-treasurer’s own colleagues found the e-card offensive and possibly against certain provisions in Canada’s Criminal Code. They reported it to the CAO. The mayor of District X also received several “heads-up” emails from politicians who had been forwarded the e-card. Today, the mayor and CAO are meeting to discuss concerns.
- What are the issues?
- What action needs to be taken in the short-term and in the long-term?
- Is poor ethical judgement common in the municipal workplace? If yes, what are some examples you have experienced?
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