Drawing a line on unethical behavior

The Dilemma

Saralynn Poindexter has a sweet job — literally. She works part-time at her uncle’s ice-cream shop, the Dairy Delight, a job that offers a flexible schedule, decent money and a free scoop during every shift she works.

Like many ice-cream shops, the Dairy Delight offers free birthday treats for people on its email list, which Uncle Dan says is a great way to build loyalty.

All is well until Saralynn’s friend Dylan Garten comes in for his free scoop — even though she knows his birthday is six months away. When she challenges him, he explains that he gave a different date when he registered because he’s always at Scout camp on his birthday. Anyway, he says, that’s nothing compared with what fellow Scout Melky Forman does: He regularly changes his birthday through another shop’s rewards app so he can get free ice cream every month.

Dylan explains that Melky usually goes with friends who buy their own cones, so the shop gets business it wouldn’t have otherwise.

“No harm, no foul,” he says.

Is Dylan right? And what should Saralynn do?

For Discussion

Read the dilemma aloud with your Scouts or Venturers. Then form two groups, one to talk about Dylan’s actions and one to talk about Melky’s actions. Have each group discuss these questions:

  • Is this action unethical?
  • If so, why — and who is being harmed?
  • If not, how do you justify the action?

Reconvene the entire group and share answers. Brainstorm a list of unethical actions that could occur in an ice-cream shop (including Dylan’s and Melky’s actions if they’re deemed to be unethical). On a whiteboard or poster board, create a continuum that displays the actions from least to most unethical.

Discuss these questions:

  • Is there a point on the continuum where actions go from being unethical to illegal?
  • Is there a point on the continuum where an employee like Saralynn needs to alert a manager?

Next, explore Saralynn’s potential courses of action using these questions:

  • What action, if any, should Saralynn take based on what Dylan is doing?
  • What action, if any, should Saralynn take based on what Dylan says Melky is doing?
  • Does it matter that her boss is also her uncle? Why or why not?
  • Does it matter that Dylan and Melky are Scouts? Why or why not?

Finally, invite your youth to share times when they’ve been in a situation like Saralynn faces. Did they take action? Why or why not? What happened next?

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