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Types of Unethical Workplace Ethics

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Unethical behavior in the workplace can take many forms. Some employees may pass off the work of others as their own. Others may misrepresent themselves as a way to convince others to buy a product or service that they are selling. And others may lie about their expenses in order to get a larger reimbursement check from their employer every month. While these cases vary, they are all examples of unethical workplace behavior.

Stealing Credit

In many offices, employees work in teams. Unfortunately, there are times when one team member tries to claim an undue share of credit for the report, marketing campaign, new mission statement or other job that the team completed. This leads to resentment from others and can break down the team spirit often needed in workplaces.

Stealing Time

Both hourly and salaried employees betray a lack of workplace ethics when they try to steal time from their employers. This time-stealing may be as simple as employees who play hearts on their computers while they're supposed to be compiling reports. It may be as large-scale as hourly streets and sanitation workers who park their trucks in a hidden alley and take an hour-long nap while on the clock.


Many workers earn lucrative commissions whenever they sell a product or service for their employer. This sometimes leads to employees misrepresenting themselves to make a sale. They may claim to be working for the local police department when they're trying to sell personal identification kits to parents. They may pretend to be calling from a nearby hospital when they are selling herbal supplements. Whenever employees misrepresent themselves, they are guilty of unethical workplace behavior.

Stealing Money

Many employees receive monthly reimbursement checks to cover their work-related expenses. This leads some to charge their employers with meals, mileage and other purchases that weren't related to their work duties. Employees may try to justify this as a way to make up for what they perceive as a salary that is too low. But lying on expense reports is just one more example of unethical workplace behavior.


Don Rafner has been writing professionally since 1992, with work published in "The Washington Post," "Chicago Tribune," "Phoenix Magazine" and several trade magazines. He is also the managing editor of "Midwest Real Estate News." He specializes in writing about mortgage lending, personal finance, business and real-estate topics. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Illinois.