Ethics Case Study: You are posted in a government office. Recently a peon was appointed in your office. Ever since his appointment he has been more of a burden than any help in the office. He doesn’t do any work and is always found to be talking with anyone he encounters. You have been receiving complaints about him from other staff members too that he is not obeying their orders in the office. The peon was appointed on sympathy grounds after his father’s death since his mother is ill. His income is the only source for his family after his father’s death. He was appointed by your predecessor on humanitarian grounds. You are very strict and disciplined in your office and you expect others to be the same. You have also observed that his behaviour is unfit to continue in his job. He appears to suffer from some psychological problem too. Identify your moral and professional responsibilities in this case study and explain how will you deal with the situation? (250 Words/ 15 Marks)

Mentor’s Comment:

Case study is an essential part of Section B of Ethics paper and is scoring in nature.

Case studies offer descriptions and data of situations, from which we have to:


  • Identify key points or issues
  • Weigh up the situation
  • Consider the information you do and don’t have


  • Define the problem/issue to be addressed precisely
  • Outline the objectives: the desirable outcomes
  • Identify resources/techniques helpful to opening up the case study
  • Generate ideas or alternative solutions

Then we can:

  • Choose a best fit solution from the options
  • Decide on an action plan
  • Outline how to implement it
  • Consider what might go wrong and how to monitor the success of the action plan

This case is a typical moral and professional ethical dilemma that many professionals and officers face in their day-to-day work life.

Here we need to identify the options available in professional ethics and moral ethics based on the behaviour of newly appointed peon.

Further, various moral responsibilities on part of officer with consequences should be mentioned with various professional responsibilities.

Further, solution based on the points mentioned as conclusion.


Model answer:

Professional ethics in this particular case ask for removal of the peon who is not fit to be in the service. Apart from this he is creating disturbance to others, thereby creating impediment to the effective discharge of duties by other staffs in the office. However, moral side asks for something else. He got his job after untimely death of his father on the basis of sympathy grounds and he is the sole breadwinner for his family. Considering the factor that his mother is ill, morality asks for his continuation in his job at the cost of organisational health. This makes his removal more difficult than what it would have been.The question poses a dilemma between the values related to helping those in need and professional values requiring one to maximize the productivity of the office.

The various moral responsibilities in this case are:

  1. a) Considering poor background of peon and mental illness, let medical help reach him so that he does not remain crippled further.
  2. b) After his medication, give him training so that he’s literate and can choose his job, based on his skills.
  3. c) In course of whole process, ensure that his mother is supported.

Also, the various professional responsibilities in this case are:

  1. a) Ensure that office work and efficiency is not affected due to the peon.
  2. b) Take steps to first make sure that he gets medical treatment and then he receives educational and vocational help. Explain to him how necessary this process is so that he will be asset to society forever in future, and get government/NGO funding for his wellness treatment.

The various options available before the officer are:

  1. Abiding to the values of integrity, honesty and objectivity and removing the person:

Though it will him to uphold professional values but he will take away the job of the peon who is the sole earning member. By doing so, he would fail to recognise the circumstances. Also, by taking this step the purpose of improving his efficiency is not served. Also, his mother would be in trouble as she is already ill.

  1. Ignoring the problem and adding one more manpower: By this, the officer will not take away the job of the inefficient peon. Also, he would find someone to work so that the work in the office does not suffer. However, it would lead to wastage of government resources.
  2. Suggestion from immediate superior: He can discuss the matter with the senior to look for the government’s schemes to ensure the justice with the individual and to take a correct decision. This would reflect the dedication and resolve of the officer.
  3. Admitting the mother in government hospital for complete medical care: This would ensure continuity of treatment for the mother. He can also arrange the support from social programmes.

As a human being, the officer would naturally feel obliged to help the mentally unstable peon given his precarious condition. This asks him to retain the person and continue to support him in as many ways as he can. However his professional responsibility is related to bringing efficiency in office and hence it enjoins him to look for any professional solution to the problem going as far as to remove him. Therefore, he should explore the possibilities of treatment of his mental condition, arrange for the mental checkup with his consent. It is likely that with the help of therapy and sustained engagement, the peon can be trained in his job. In this way, he can uphold his integrity, honesty, professionalism and empathy for the poor, mentally ill peon to live dignified life.


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