Examining this question in terms of its most basic premise is vital. The employer-and-employee relationship is rather unique yet objective. In essence, the employer and employee relationship entail a symbiotic connection in which the employers’ actions directly influence the employee and vice versa. Hence it is important to examine such a relationship regarding the impact of actions.
Essentially, an employee is under a legal and moral obligation to abide by the rules governing the workplace. It is the only tangible way to determine the employee obligation without abstract interference of nonobjective and nontangible moral issues. Hence, it is fair to suggest that to set limits and guidelines to govern moral and legal obligations, one has to follow those guidelines exclusively prescribed by the employer, which may entail industry-wide standards. For instance, if the employer has an explicit code of conduct that includes confidentiality in internal R&D or electronic correspondence, the employee is bound/obliged by those exclusive guidelines.
However, there may be “gray areas” which have not been defined, or the guidelines are vague. For instance, in R&D matters, there may be instances in which some information is available publicly, yet in connection with internal R&D, that particular information may become extremely valuable. In such cases, it is obvious that unless the employer’s code of conduct has a prescribed set of standard operating procedures, the employee is reasonably free to conduct him/herself with simple common sense / common courtesy behavior.
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