A Question of Ethics

So, here’s the situation (I’m so resisting typing…my parents went away on a week’s vacation…):

You’re at lunch with a group of seven people, three of whom are your guests. One of the three is a federal employee, but that doesn’t even enter into your mindset.

In the interest of hurrying the process because the service is a little slow, you get up from the table and take care of the bill. The bill is on your own credit card, but you’re going to be reimbursed by the company, so there’s really no issue with the check total.

In the next part of the meeting, in another location, the federal employee hands you a $20 and says its for lunch. You say don’t worry about it. He says, I’m fed, I have to give this to you. I appreciate the gesture, but it’s your tax dollars at work.

You say OK and take the bill — knowing that’s really the only option, because he’s not taking it back.

So, here’s what happens next.

You really have two choices.

You can keep the $20 for yourself because when you submit the paperwork, you’re getting reimbursed. No skin off your back — but an extra $20 in your pocket.

Or, you could go back to the restaurant (which would not be inconvenient) and ask them to readjust the bill and the charge by adding the $20 to the original bill.

So, what do you do? Keep the $20 for yourself or go back and ‘do the right thing’ at the restaurant?

After telling me what you would do, tell me what you think I did.

What else? I got nothin’.


17 Comments on “A Question of Ethics”

  1. Personally, I’d “do the right thing,” but I think there may be a way to do this on the other end…on the end where you submit your expenditure report. (But, I’m not sure how the billing system at your company works. In companies I’ve worked in before, it was pretty simple to adjust on that end and use the $20 to cover the portion that wouldn’t be on the credit card bill.)

    I’m curious to see what you did! 🙂

  2. Anna says:

    hmm…I feel like I’d get caught in some loophole, so I’d hand the $20 in with the receipt and let the numbers people work it out. There is probably some more sophisticated way to deal with it, but I bet you opted for same.

  3. Anna says:

    Was it a good lunch? The Cobb salad?

  4. Anna says:

    Besides, didn’t the Fed guy need a receipt?

  5. Molly says:

    Donate the $20 to a non-profit in the fed’s name?

  6. Sara says:

    I agree with Anna. But more importantly, what were you doing out with a fed? Are you single handedly solving our nations financial situation?

  7. I would hand the $20 in with the receipt/expense report and let them work it out at your company….easier said then done as it is easy to keep the money but it is essentially the right thing to do….and besides – the fed may hunt you down later in life….

  8. JC says:

    You wrote a check and submitted the check with your paperwork to your company and then you kept the $20

  9. Barb says:

    I would have taken the $20 off my expenditure report for the company and kept the bill in my pocket. …also… now you have me singing the whole DJ jazzy jeff & fresh prince song…damn you!

  10. Pessimistic Redhead says:

    You obviously returned the $20 because that’s just the kind of guy you are.

    I would just keep the money.

    Would they mind?

    Umm, well, of course not.

  11. Stephanie says:

    Honestly? I would probably keep the money ONLY because it would’ve been way too much of a hassle to go back and have the restaurant adjust it. Also? Twenty bucks! Woo! I bet you went the totally honest way out. You’re a good guy. 🙂

  12. Erin says:

    Twenty dollars would cover a very tasty lunch for your overworked employees… don’t you think, Anna? 🙂

  13. Molly says:

    I think Anna’s got the right idea. And knowing you, you probably took that path as well.

  14. JenBun says:

    I dunno. I would probably tell our accounting person and see what she would say.

    She would probably tell me to keep it. Or she would round up the check for my expenses. Bonus!

    I don’t know what you did. Only you know… and us, when you tell us! 😉

  15. Ishmen says:

    The fed is obviously on a per diem so he doesn’t need a receipt so he is covered. (He probably gets a $120 per diem whether he spends it or not). I say you went back to the restaurant and had them adjust the bill because that is the most anal thing to do.

  16. Out to lunch with a fed? I probably would just take it to finance and have them figure it out. or buy something nice for your overworked employees they deserve it! i am sure you did the right thing!

  17. Melissa says:

    I would turn in the $20 with my expense report and let the financial people figure it out. (does that make sense? you’re getting reimbursed so you’d be getting $$ back anyway) Or I would leave the $20 as a tip for the server and submit the receipt as is w/ the expense report.


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