List & Examples Of Unethical Behavior In The Workplace 2022

Unethical behaviour is completely the opposite of doing the right thing. Examples of unethical behavior in the workplace can be found in every business field or workplace. 

This certainly means break a law, written or any other type. In this article, we bring you some of the most common unethical behaviour in the workplace and how to deal with it. 

team in the office

What Is Considered Unethical In The Workplace?

Situations that are generally against a team or office rules and can hurt or threaten other people are considered unethical behaviour. Unethical behaviour can be seen towards colleagues, rules of the company or consumers. Once you break the trust, it is hard to find it back again. Also, there is a difference between some acts. While violating some minor rules can pass with just a verbal rebuke, more serious violation needs to be legally punished. Usually, some minor disregard of company policy can be tolerated, while sexual harassment and violating others rights is punished by law. 

How To Deal With Unethical Behaviour?

Depending on the type of unethical behaviour, you need to react. Yet, a quick and firm reaction with objective evidence is needed. Usually, there is one person responsible for providing help in those situations and they are familiar with company policy or laws. Everything starts with the hiring process, so you need to know how to find good employees and which characteristics are acceptable. Then, be sure that you have clear evidence and completely secure the situation. If you need it, call for insurance. Then, punish accordingly or report to higher authorities. 


List Of Unethical Behavior In The Workplace

This is the list of the 15 most common examples of unethical behaviour in the workplace, how to recognise and deal with it. 

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is one of the most serious rules violations. What is more, it is the most serious accusation. It can hurt another person on many levels, both professional and personal which can lead to depression and anxiety. A person who is committing it will touch others or call them names they don`t feel comfortable hearing. Also, they can offer sex for a job or similar actions. It is most important to immediately protect the victim and report that behaviour. 

Physical Threat

Aggressive people shouldn`t be part of a team in the first place, but sometimes you can discover that type of behaviour only in certain situations as a reaction. Usually, narcissistic people can overreact if you complain about their work. But, people under pressure can explode and threaten violently. Be sure that you can calm the situation and in any serious case, like threatening with a weapon, immediately call for help. 


Discrimination in any form is strictly forbidden and can be seriously punished. The most common type is racial or sexual discrimination. When talking to a new employer, you can ask about your right. But, every time somebody calls you a name because of your race, sexual orientation or religion, you need to react and report it. Education and workplace morale boosters can help with building a solid community. 


Sometimes, employees consider taking office material to home as something normal and acceptive. The truth is that somebody has paid for it and taking it is considered theft. Office material is intended to use there, so all of your colleagues can share it and finish work. Taking smaller material, like post-it notes can be forgiven, but making more damage and taking, for example, a computer, must be punished. 


Any employed person with a fair salary should do work well and with high standards. Some professions come in touch with a bribe to overseen or hurry some process. In many countries, this behaviour is strictly forbidden and punishments are very high. Corruptive can be any gift or money in exchange for a favour. An ethical person should refuse and report that kind of behaviour. 


Nepotism means that you will prefer a family member or a friend over another candidate while employing. There are some ground rules when you do it and you should always consider characteristics of a good worker that will fit into the team. People who are employed over that practice usually feel uncomfortable or more powerful, so they can use it over others. You can hire a close person only if they have passed the same test as other candidates and turned out to be the most successful. 

Disrespectful Behaviour Towards Colleagues

Being late for work every morning and making another excuse will not only make your boss mad, but it is also very disrespectful to your colleagues. Some people put effort to come on time and want to start with work but need to wait for you. Also, staying longer on a pause break is very rude, since others have the same right. Probably no one will notice that you are pretending to be ill when you call for a sick day, but somebody needs to cover you and can lose trust. This should be punished with a verbal note. 

money in the pocket

Taking Credit And Lying

When you work in a team, you should act equally to anyone. Many people can give ideas and the final product is mutual work. When you lie about your work and claim that you make everything, you don’t give credentials to people who deserve it. The same goes for the situation when you sign under teamwork, but haven`t done your part or actively taken part. Lying about how much have you achieved can be misleading and rude to others. 

Wasting Work Hours

There are days when you feel bored or don’t have much to do. Many use that time to scroll on social networks and just waste time. If you get your salary every month, you should respect working try and give your maximum to work. Also, rather take a shorter break and go to the fresh air if this can help you concentrate. 

Selling Defective Products

When selling, you need to be extra careful about the information you will provide. Avoiding to tell the real facts about products, changing prices and charging differently is forbidden. Also, if you know the product is somehow defective, you need to stress it and let the consumer decide. Some people may accept it, but a disappointed buyer will never return. Any type of withholding important information is considered unethical and there is a legal right for the consumer to return their money. 

Unpaid Overtime

Some people want to finish their work and will stay in the office voluntarily. Yet, if they need to stay and you don`t pay them fairly, they can report you. Everyone has private time and their work needs to be paid for. Also, this can be reported and punished with a fine, but also future employers might hear about it and avoid your company. Commonly, many don`t protest since they are worried about their position. 

Breach Of Data Privacy

Employers must never share data about the consumer with a third party. This can endanger a person and is considered highly unethical. People who provide personal data trust you and it should be kept secret. Also, many tend to sell personal data in exchange for more money, so the third party can use it for advertising. This is also illegal and can be reported and paid high fines for it. 

Destroying Company’s Property

Any type of aggressive behaviour and violence shouldn’t be tolerated in the office. Yet, if somebody is destroying property or equipment on purpose, they should pay for it. Everyone in the office has an equal right to use the toilet, the kitchen and other facilities. Also, they should be in the proper way for use. 

Non-Office Work

If you have a side job, it can be great for your finances. Yet, you need to find time to deal with it. Anything that doesn’t have to do with office work must be done in your free time. The employer pays you and colleagues for the same work and it wouldn’t be fair if you make more money. It is positive that you want to make extra money, but find someone to help you instead. 

Financial Fraud

Taking money from a company is a serious fraud. you can do it for some time, but the accountants will eventually find out about it. It isn’t the biggest problem to stay without a job, but you will need to pay a fine and return the money. If you need financial help, rather be open and talk about it with your boss. 

Final Verdict

Unethical behavior in the workplace can be various and not all of them are the same. Smaller mistakes, like taking post-it notes and being late for work can be forgiven if you change behaviour. Yet, taking the bribe or being aggressive to someone will need to be reported and officially punished. If
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Joana graduated in 2014. and has a master's degree in linguistics. The education makes her an expert in business communication while her 5-year work experience gives her expertise in business researches and writing. She has been working on several services as an editor and writer studying business cases and publishing results she has come to. She has established many collaborations with experts in human resources and management so she uses the knowledge of experts for writing the articles.