Ethically, what would you do? Conference no-show

Group of multiethnic diverse business people
September 2017 ethics scenario

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Scenario adapted courtesy of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency

You and a colleague are sent out-of-town to attend a two-day, work-related conference in Banff, Alta. On the flight there, you and your colleague joke about how you are getting a free ski holiday and that you should take the rental car, tour around and have fun instead of going to the boring conference. You did not mean what you said and you thought it was understood that you were just sharing a joke.

The next morning during the first break at the conference, your colleague suggests that you both take off and go skiing. You disagree and make it clear that you should attend the conference. Your colleague seems to let it drop.

After lunch, however, you return to the conference and realize your colleague is not there, nor does he respond that night when you call his room. You attend the conference the next day and again, your colleague is nowhere in sight. It is a small conference and there is no way your colleague could be there without you seeing him.

As you get ready to check out of the hotel at the end of the conference, your colleague calls about sharing a taxi to the airport, and you both return to work with no mention of his whereabouts over the past couple of days.

Back in the office, your manager sends an invitation to meet with you and your colleague to discuss the conference. Your colleague stops by your desk and says, “Hey, I’m just going to let you talk in the meeting,” and walks ahead into the manager’s office.

You, your manager and your co-worker meet and you abide by your co-worker’s wishes in answering the manager’s questions regarding the conference. What should you do?

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