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Is this sentence correct?

If an employee experiences an ethical dilemma, they can request a reassignment.

Is it correct to use 'they' when talking about 'an employee'? Or should the subject be plural?

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I think that your example is correct.

A plural subject has a slightly different meaning, leaning towards more than one employee with an ethical dilemma:

If employees experience an ethical dilemma, they can request a reassignment

Using they as shown in your example is a relatively recent literary device used to address the issue of gender assumption; e.g.:

  1. The classic gender assumption of masculine, with the implication that men work and women don't:

If an employee experiences an ethical dilemma, he can request a reassignment

  1. Using "he or she" to make it gender-neutral. A little clumsy:

If an employee experiences an ethical dilemma, he or she can request a reassignment

  1. Using "she or he," an alternative that puts ladies first. Equally clumsy:

If an employee experiences an ethical dilemma, she or he can request a reassignment

  1. In some writings, you may see the gender assumed as feminine:

If an employee experiences an ethical dilemma, she can request a reassignment

  1. Another solution you may see in textbooks is for authors to alternate between he and she, like so:

MATH HOMEWORK:

  1. If a student rides their bike at 10mph for 15 minutes, how far will he travel?
  2. If someone walks for at 5mph, how far will she walk in an hour?
  3. A friend walks for 45 minutes at 3mph. How far will he walk?
  4. If a person drives at 20mph, how far will she drive in an hour?
  5. etc.

As you can see, they neatly sidesteps all of this clumsiness, effectively leaving it as an exercise to the reader to assign gender.

If an employee experiences an ethical dilemma, they can request a reassignment

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    It's not as recent as you think, but it has become more popular recently. – phoog Feb 23 at 11:22

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