The Mess at USC

On the heels of the mess at Penn State, the mess at Michigan State, and the new mess at Ohio State, we have more developments in the mess at USC. Dr. George Tyndall, formerly a gynecologist at the student health center at USC, was sued (along with USC) by fifty more women who allege that Dr. Tyndall, sexually abused and harassed them. That brings the total number of women alleging misconduct by the doctor to over 200.

The timeline is emerging in bits and pieces, and it is a timeline that we have seen before at Penn State and Michigan State. Between 2000 and 2014, USC administrators received 8 complaints from young women about Dr. Tyndall’s lewd comments and behavior. In 2013, eight co-workers reported their concerns about Dr. Tyndall’s behavior to their supervisors. In 2016, USC placed Dr. Tyndall on leave while they conducted an internal investigation. That investigation concluded that Dr. Tyndall’s pelvic exams may have been inappropriate and that he made racially and sexually offensive comments to patients. Dr. Tyndall was permitted to retire in June 2017 under a separation agreement. All was quiet on this western front until the Los Angeles Times ran a story on the issues with Dr. Tyndall. In fact, things were so quiet that USC did not report Dr. Tyndall to the California Medical Board until after the LA Times called about the story as part of their investigation. Now the Medical Board and the Department of Education are also investigating.

The Barometer is often asked by board members and CEOs, “What are the red flags for ethical issues?” Very simple — if you receive a complaint, investigate. The complaints are the red flags. You need not wait for more complaints or a pattern — just investigate and then take action. Complaints are not something we process. Complaints are our guide to organizational missteps and misdeeds. In these university cases (and so many others), the failure to follow up on complaints resulted in scandals. Instead of dismissing a few complaints as the cranks and crackpots acting out, assume that they might have something and act accordingly.

About mmjdiary

Professor Marianne Jennings is an emeritus professor of legal and ethical studies from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, retiring in 2011 after 35 years of teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in ethics and the legal environment of business. During her tenure at ASU, she served as director of the Joan and David Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics from 1995-1999. In 2006, she was appointed faculty director for the W.P. Carey Executive MBA Program. She has done consulting work for businesses and professional groups including AICPA, Boeing, Dial Corporation, Edward Jones, Mattel, Motorola, CFA Institute, Southern California Edison, the Institute of Internal Auditors, AIMR, DuPont, AES, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Motorola, Hy-Vee Foods, IBM, Bell Helicopter, Amgen, Raytheon, and VIAD. The sixth edition of her textbook, Case Studies in Business Ethics, was published in February 2011. The ninth edition of her textbook, Business: lts Legal, Ethical and Global Environment was published in January 2011. The 23rd edition of her book, Business Law: Principles and Cases, will be published in January 2013. The tenth edition of her book, Real Estate Law, will also be published in January 2013. Her book, A Business Tale: A Story of Ethics, Choices, Success, and a Very Large Rabbit, a fable about business ethics, was chosen by Library Journal in 2004 as its business book of the year. A Business Tale was also a finalist for two other literary awards for 2004. In 2000 her book on corporate governance was published by the New York Times MBA Pocket Series. Her book on long-term success, Building a Business Through Good Times and Bad: Lessons from Fifteen Companies, Each With a Century of Dividends, was published in October 2002 and has been used by Booz, Allen, Hamilton for its work on business longevity. Her latest book, The Seven Signs of Ethical Collapse was published by St. Martin’s Press in July 2006 and has been a finalist for two book awards. Her weekly columns are syndicated around the country, and her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Reader's Digest. A collection of her essays, Nobody Fixes Real Carrot Sticks Anymore, first published in 1994 is still being published. She has been a commentator on business issues on All Things Considered for National Public Radio. She has served on four boards of directors, including Arizona Public Service (1987-2000), Zealous Capital Corporation, and the Center for Children with Chronic Illness and Disability at the University of Minnesota. She was appointed to the board of advisors for the Institute of Nuclear Power Operators in 2004 and served on the board of trustees for Think Arizona, a public policy think tank. She has appeared on CNBC, CBS This Morning, the Today Show, and CBS Evening News. In 2010 she was named one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Business Ethics by Trust Across America. Her books have been translated into four different languages. She received the British Emerald award for authoring one of their top 50 articles in management publications, chosen from over 15,000 articles. Personal: Married since 1976 to Terry H. Jennings, Maricopa County Attorney’s Office Deputy County Attorney; five children: Sarah, Sam, and John, and the late Claire and Hannah Jennings.
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