When to Use the Ethics Hotline

Whenever human beings come together as neighbors, family members, or co-workers–there are rules that must necessarily govern their behavior towards one another. In a neighborhood, those rules may be made by the state, city, or a homeowner’s association. In a family, those rules may be made by parents–and some of those rules may be made by the state, or other government subdivision.

In the workplace, though, it is the company or corporation that makes and enforces most rules. In the workplace, codes of conduct are instituted to protect the organization from legal liability brought on by the bad or negligent acts of their employees.

In short, corporate ethics are what protect employees–and employers–from abuse, and any act which contradicts that ethical code is a violation.

What Is An Ethics Hotline?

An “ethics hotline” is the most common reporting system organization’s implement to ensure their ethical codes are being followed. There are many different ways an employee might go about reporting bad behavior in the workplace, but virtually every major company in the United States runs an ethics hotline or contracts with a third-party to the same effect.

An ethics hotline is an anonymous on-line system and/or phone line an employee can use to report bad behavior. Hotlines are anonymous so as to protect employees from retribution from angry peers or retaliation from supervisors or managers that may be implicated in the complaint.

When Should I Use the Ethics Hotline?

A lot of things fall under the category of corporate ethics, and so many different situations might be reportable through a hotline. Here is a short list of the most commonly reported violations:

  1. Inappropriate behavior in the workplace claims: when employees feel as though they are being bullied or otherwise unfairly singled out for negative treatment by co-workers or bosses, they may make a general claim of inappropriate behavior in the workplace.
  2. Sexual harassment in the workplace claims: when an employee feels as though they are being touched or talked to in a way that is sexually inappropriate, a complaint made through the ethics hotline would be more than appropriate.
  3. Financial abuse in the workplace claims: when an employee observes another employee or manager engaging in questionable acts such that that person appears to being stealing money from, or taking some other benefit from, the employer, a complaint made through the ethics hotline would be appropriate.

Should I Hire An Ethics and Compliance Professional To Help My Organization?

Corporate ethics is confusing. Like the law that governs our broader society, to be effective the rules an organization puts into place in their work space may also be expansive and complex. Some organizations struggle with determining whether and when to implement an ethics hotline.  If you are trying to evaluate if your organization would benefit from a professional ethics audit, the implementation of a code of conduct, or the installation and operation of an anonymous hotline–contact the ethics and compliance experts at Ethical Advocate as soon as possible.