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Apprentice
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Q. Many successful firms hire summer interns. These dedicated volunteers are generally of significant value to the firms, yet are paid nothing. Is this fair to the youngsters? A. There is certainly something paradoxical about internships. The law forbids hiring workers for below minimum wage, but allows employers to hire them for nothing! This may […]
Should Father Pay
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Q. My son wants his brothers and sisters to be at his upcoming wedding, but not all of them can afford the trip. He wants me to pay half the plane fare. I have helped him in the past to the best of my ability, but the truth is that my means are very short […]
Under the Table
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Q. My friend’s employer pays her “under the table,” without paying employer taxes. I would like to protest their behavior, but I’m afraid it will cost my friend her job. A. There is definitely a place for protesting improper behavior, but we also need to examine the boundaries of this ethical imperative. Certainly it is […]
Magic Moment
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Q. In a recent column, you wrote that it is generally fair for parents to contribute to making a wedding celebration according to their means. Shouldn’t we condemn lavish weddings? A. Anything good can be taken to extremes, and having a memorable wedding is certainly one. Opulent weddings, or those beyond the means of the […]
Slander in Self-Defense
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Q. An employee resigned suddenly to compete with our firm, leaving us in the lurch. Am I allowed to tell inconvenienced customers the reason for our disarray? This would both take the blame off me and my remaining loyal employees, and also warn the customers about this person’s questionable character. A. A sudden departure in […]
Stereotypes and Prejudice
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Q. I try and judge people objectively, but recently I learned an acquaintance was from a different ethnic background and I was dismayed to see that it completely changed my views on her. Is such “racial profiling” an ethical deficiency? A. We have to distinguish different types of judgment. One thing we should make completely […]
Your Loss, My Gain
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Q. Is it ethical to take advantage of someone else’s mistake in business? A. “Taking advantage of someone else’s mistake” is quite a broad topic. This week we will give an overview of some of the dilemmas this could involve, and in subsequent columns we will try and give more specific examples. Jewish law on […]
Is Googling Ethical
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Q. Sometimes when I meet someone new or I have business with someone, I search for information about them on the internet. Is this an invasion of privacy? After all, I only obtain publicly available information. A. Finding publicly available information through an internet search service such as Google has become so common that we […]
Bank Error
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Q. I recently found an unexpected deposit into my account. This has happened a few times. In the past I notified the bank, but now it’s becoming a burden, I could really use the money, and besides I understand that the bank is insured against the mistake anyway. A. I wrote about this topic once […]
Hidden Consultation
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Q. I went to a chiropractor for routine treatment, but when I got the bill I saw he also charged me separately for a consultation! He never told me that he was providing a “consultation” or that I would be billed for his advice. What should I do? A. In English, the legal term for […]