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Political views question WITHOUT talking about your political views

Political views question WITHOUT talking about your political views

(OP)
I work for a mechanical engineering design consulting firm. We primarily work with customers on consumer goods projects. We also work with artists frequently because we have many different high end 3D printers and we like to keep them running so we print out artwork. An artist recently came to us with a project that is very politically dividing and it doesn't align with the views of the company or the people at the company. We are small in numbers and all similarly politically minded.

We have turned down projects in the past that were not in line with our ethical standpoints but they were also borderline illegal so that was pretty easy. We just really don't want to do this particular political project.

My question is this, is it ethical to turn this down because we don't want to do it? I don't want it to turn into a supreme court cake situation... Is it okay to give them an absurdly high price instead of just saying no? (I suppose that creates a whole different situation if they accept the higher price.)

Please help me with this. Also, please try to keep your political opinions out of it.

RE: Political views question WITHOUT talking about your political views

"...turn it down because we don't want to do it?"

Exactly what happened to the cake situation.

"...absurdly high price instead of just saying no?"

It'll turn into the cake situation if you ever do something similar for a political view that aligns with your company's viewpoint...and you charge a lower price.

You may be able to turn it down if it's borderline vulgar or even slightly mean spirited.

Best to talk with the company lawyer how to handle it...

______________________________________________________________________________
This is normally the space where people post something insightful.

RE: Political views question WITHOUT talking about your political views

If it would turn into a supreme court case, (ie you are discriminating against someone in a protected class), I would say it is absolutely unethical, to refuse or to offer too high a price either way. If you are even considering discriminating against someone because of race/religion/sexuality I think it speaks to the fact your company is highly unethical to begin with. If it purely a political piece (say a statue of trump with Hitler moustache, or some confederate monument, or even something less extreme), then there is no ethical issue refusing the work, and no risk of a supreme court case coming from your refusal. Simply state your company doesn't want to do something that can be seen as endorsing their political opinions.

RE: Political views question WITHOUT talking about your political views

(OP)
For clarification the cake situation I was referring to was when a wedding cake company turned down a homosexual couple because they were homosexual. I'm not sure if the decisions from that apply to political orientation or if it is restricted to sexual orientation. This particular project isn't vulgar or mean spirited, but the thing that the project idolizes is quite vulgar and mean spirited. Do you think that is enough?

RE: Political views question WITHOUT talking about your political views

Political views are not a protected class and your company should have a right to refuse the work. I would just tell the artist your company doesn't want to do political work, but are fine working with the artist on their other works. Musicians frequently refuse to allow politicians to use their songs without consequence. There is a law that TV stations need to allow campaign advertising from all parties iirc but I doubt that applies here.

RE: Political views question WITHOUT talking about your political views

(OP)
Thanks, that is really helpful. We would never discriminate against someone for race/religion/sexuality, I wasn't sure if political fell into that same category.

This is really helpful, thanks.

RE: Political views question WITHOUT talking about your political views

... funny how this even gets to be part of the equation. Political correctness at its worst... where it becomes part of the scope.

Dik

RE: Political views question WITHOUT talking about your political views

Unless it is illegal, I consider the work fair game. I may not agree with it, but my job is to make the item, not provide my personal view on it. Why companies waffle over this kind of stuff is beyond me... if you are worried about what might come in the door, don't provide the service.

Dan - Owner
http://www.Hi-TecDesigns.com

RE: Political views question WITHOUT talking about your political views

"WE have turned down, WE don't want to do it..."

Was that decision made by the owner? If not, then refusing that business based on your personal beliefs instead of doing the job, is the only obvious ethical problem.

RE: Political views question WITHOUT talking about your political views

Cake: Customers were refused because of the customers' belief.

Art: Service "no quote" because of the nature of the end product.

There should be a difference here.

Service providers can and do "no quote" all the time for many reasons.

RE: Political views question WITHOUT talking about your political views

You need legal advice for your own jurisdiction. Law on this varies greatly from place to place.

RE: Political views question WITHOUT talking about your political views

No quotes and "don't want it" prices are done regularly by most successful businesses, there's nothing unethical about it nor are you obligated to give a customer a reason why you don't want to do the work. This is why whomever is reviewing quotes needs a solid background in manufacturing, preferably one stemming from time on the shop floor. I've seen many audits that found purchasing dummies and junior engineers receiving three "don't want it" quotes and blindly paying an absurd amount simply because they sent work to the wrong type of shop.

Personally I'd simply tell the customer no quote and not give a reason. If you want to play the game a bit, in addition to absurd price you can also leverage an absurd lead time to make the customer go elsewhere.

RE: Political views question WITHOUT talking about your political views

Are you sure you want a review stating you charge absurdly high prices? Word gets around quickly these days.

RE: Political views question WITHOUT talking about your political views

As mentioned, political views are not a protected by law. So, yes, you can turn them down, raise prices, extend lead times, give or not give a reason... pretty much whatever you want! (Of course you'll get bad reviews if you're a jerk about it or whatever.)

Some more detail:
At least right now, there are three federal laws which protect six characteristics. Basically, all forms of harassment or discrimination based on these six characteristics directed to either employees or customers is not ok.

The six characteristics protected by law are:
• Race
• Gender
• Religion 
• National origin 
• Age (over 40)
• Disability

The three federal laws granting the protections are:
• Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 - prohibits discriminating based on race, gender, religion, and national origin.
• Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA)
• Amended Americans with Disabilities Act 2008 (ADAAA) 

RE: Political views question WITHOUT talking about your political views

Just do the job. Politics are dumb.

RE: Political views question WITHOUT talking about your political views

This is essentially what I was leading towards, Terra...

Dan - Owner
http://www.Hi-TecDesigns.com

RE: Political views question WITHOUT talking about your political views

I think you have a pretty good idea what you are being asked to print. If I am correct, there is a company in Minnesota that recalled one of their 3D printers when learning what they were being used for the same thing. They were worried about bad press and their equipment getting tied up in some legal battle.

RE: Political views question WITHOUT talking about your political views

If the project is associated with something that is politically offensive to either or both parties, I would probably decline it. Just wouldn't want my name attached to it.

Pamela K. Quillin, P.E.
Quillin Engineering, LLC
NSPE-CO, Central Chapter

RE: Political views question WITHOUT talking about your political views

Quote (If you are a licensed PE, you have obligations to serve the public interest, not just your own.)


I disagree. Serving the public interest as a design professional refers to ensuring that what we produce is safe. We turn down projects - occasionally - because the fee is too low or too much risk is being placed on us.

Quote (If the project is associated with something that is politically offensive to either or both parties ...)

I agree; why give yourself a bad reputation over something you find offensive?

Providing a professional service is not the same as running a pizzeria.

RE: Political views question WITHOUT talking about your political views

I think moltenmetal's and controlnovice's answer is the only "right" answer in this situation...the company needs to get a consultation with a lawyer; I'd go as far as enlisting a 1st amendment specialist for this case. If the artwork is political in nature and is related to a protected class designation, it can get murky very quickly.

RE: Political views question WITHOUT talking about your political views



C'mon man. How realistic is that, lol? Would you really go so far as to spend your money on a lawyer for this? I hope this comment is sarcastic. If you don't want to do a job, there are plenty of ways to not get selected. Its the actual GETTING of the projects that is the challenge. I suspect the people in charge are savvy enough to know how blow off a client.

RE: Political views question WITHOUT talking about your political views

If I were you, I would check your states rules of conduct and think about them as it relates to this.

Pamela K. Quillin, P.E.
Quillin Engineering, LLC
NSPE-CO, Central Chapter

RE: Political views question WITHOUT talking about your political views

"What's that coming off the production line Steve?"

"3d printed Swastiaka. You know, the usual."


I'm with moltenmetal. If, for instance, you were hired to print swastikas or soviet hammers/sickles in Europe, there are quite a few laws you'd be breaking.

Hydrology, Drainage Analysis, Flood Studies, and Complex Stormwater Litigation for Atlanta and the South East - http://www.campbellcivil.com

RE: Political views question WITHOUT talking about your political views

Your consumer is an artist, he/she can have other political views. You should based on consumers' wishes whether you are against his/her political thoughts.

If your colleagues and you think that his/her political views may occur a supreme court situation, do not do the work.

Fatih

RE: Political views question WITHOUT talking about your political views

@Terratek

If the artist is doing this work for commission, the artist may not care if they get the cold shoulder from any one company. If it's a passion project, I put money on future complications. This whole realm is grey in my mind, so if I were a business owner I'd at least want to get an idea of the landscape and landmines I could wade into with a decision. That's just me, might be a bit more paranoid than necessary.

RE: Political views question WITHOUT talking about your political views

I turn down work all the time for any number of reasons that I don't necessarily share with the potential client.

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