Have you ever encountered an ethical dilemma?  If so, how did you handle it?

 Sometimes, when faced with a decision to make a certain sacrifice for the benefit of all but you, that part of the human ego that goes with it tends to return; and return larger than before.

This Content Originally Published by a land surveyor to Land Surveyors United Network

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I encounter ethical dilemmas every day.

Do I file a complaint against a Land Surveyor I know is violating codified law but has yet to have the Public complain about it to the Board?

Is it ethical to talk to potential clients about other Land Surveyors mistakes?

Is it ethical to talk to Public about mistakes another Land Surveyor has made without first contacting that Land Surveyor?

These are just a few but there are many ethical questions Land Surveyors encounter every day. It is a great topic of discussion and one that is lacking in our profession.

Karl,

Glad to hear from you and thank you for your valuable opinions.  Here I go with mine: 

Do I file a complaint against a Land Surveyor I know is violating codified law but has yet to have the Public complain about it to the Board? 

My answer is, well, maybe; it depends upon the severity of the infraction, and whether any case law would support such a complaint with any  judicial preference for or against a particular infraction.

Is it ethical to talk to potential clients about other Land Surveyors mistakes?

again, my answer is, well, maybe; it depends upon the severity of the infraction, and whether any case law would support such a complaint with any  judicial preference for or against a particular infraction.

Is it ethical to talk to Public about mistakes another Land Surveyor has made without first contacting that Land Surveyor?

 

Again, my answer is, well, maybe; it depends upon the severity of the infraction, and whether any case law would support such a complaint with any  judicial preference for or against a particular infraction.

Ethics is one of the easiest subjects until one applies it to a particular situation; that is where the black and white become gray.

-Scott

I think I posted in the wrong discussion earlier.

Great question with few responses.  Professional ethics keep you in good standing with clients and the general public.  They also keep you out of court, but what are they?  We need some examples of situations to even get something started.  First off, you have to be kind and friendly.  You can't swear like a drunken sailor when you are around "outsiders."  With your crew in the woods, it might be ok.  Second, you have to be fair not just with your client but with the joiners.  Third, you have to be firm.  To be firm, you need solid evidence.

I'm dealing with poor ethics now, but not with a surveyor;  My client has poor ethics.  How do you tell a client to stop removing existing markers just because he/she thinks they're wrong.  I have no proof but I know the pins disappeared.  How do I ethically handle this problem?

If the survey is complete, it is up to the client whether or not he or she chooses to be unethical, and I would no longer care.  I explain to my clients, if I detect that they may be removing survey markers that in the State of Wisconsin, this is illegal and punishable by a $1,000.00 fine.  I say that you can remove the fence post or the lath that witnesses the corner, but the corner monument, flush with the ground per Wis Statutes, can not be disturbed.  I am not usually quite that blunt about it, but I make sure they get the facts.

That is a good point Scott and often certain questions are not just black and white. 

I agree Matt, many times you do have clients who are unethical. I have written about this before and the way I handle this is to drop them as soon as you can. Finish your job with them but don't follow them down the hole they are climbing in. I confront them in a private conversation and then drop them. You would be surprised how often they come back hat in hand apologizing for their behavior. 

Deward, this may be a completely separate issue than ethics.  She thought there was a problem in the plan:  Maybe there is a lot missing.  She wants a problem, I think.  She has been in everyone's yard with her metal detector and shovel.  The folks are sick of her.  I found a potential gap in the property behind her, but she wants the plan to be wrong.  I've got reference points and can replace the pins back.  I'm not sure we are talking ethics here but it's something that's bothering me.  What other evidence is she going to destroy or try to obliterate?  I might, by continuing my survey, be encouraging more destruction.  It's an interesting job trying to log hours and not have to make refunds or get fired when you're working for the problem landowner. 

Matt, it sounds like you are in a bit of a pickle, a conundrum of the sort that you are debating whether or not to even continue the survey.  Please correct me if I am misinterpreting.  I have had to stop work on a few surveys for more than one reason, however, never have I stopped work due to a meddling client who seems to be working against me.  If I were in your shoes, I would stop now and contact my attorney for advice.

The pickle is that I collected a retainer and it's spent.  Well, pretty much spent.  I found an "error" but not in the way she thinks.  I found an apparent gap in the rear but she thinks the lots shifted left and right:  They didn't.  I have to work enough to say, "Your retainer is gone and now you have to add to it for the final product."  She's is, in a way, working against me.  I've been here before and I will do my due diligence.  I owe it to her and the rest of the community to show what happened.  I might be able to prove the gap exists, I just need her to let me work.

Matt, it's good news that you have been in this situation before.  Experience, or the "school of hard knocks" has taught me plenty.  Some things can not be effectively learned in a college or university.  I trust you will arrive at a meeting of the minds with your difficult client.  If not, we are here to discuss and help any way we can.

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