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Accepting Responsibility for Mistakes
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Q. I write a weekly ethics column for thousands of readers around the world. While I do my best to research each column thoroughly, it is inevitable that the many invaluable comments I receive from my readers occasionally lead me to revise my views. What should I do?  A. You certainly owe your readers a […]
The Extortion Game
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Q. “Business as usual” for our construction firm is like this: We have to pay off City Hall to get a building permit, compensate the police to let us unload building materials, acknowledge the union official in order to get construction workers, and reward the city engineer to certify the building. Finally, we have to […]
Embellishing Your Resume
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Q. I’m looking for a job in web development. My friends advise me to stretch the truth a bit on my resume so as to increase my chances of getting an interview. How far can I go in embellishing my credentials? How can I “sell myself” without being an egotist? A. When selling yourself or […]
Counterfeit Bills
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Q. Last week in my office, someone passed us a counterfeit note when paying for a purchase. Are we stuck with the note, or are we allowed to “pass it along?” After all, we are not the counterfeiters, so why should we take the loss? On the other hand, somewhere along the line someone will […]
Religious Disclosure
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Q. Do I have to tell a prospective employer that I keep Shabbat? I’m applying for a job in a lab, where it is frequently necessary to work weekends, but through careful planning I generally make sure that my Shabbat observance is not a burden on my co-workers. I want to be open about my […]
Playing Hookey
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Q. All the kids at my high school, when they have doctor’s appointments and the like, stay out a little longer for lunch or ice cream. On a “once in a while” basis, is it a real problem ethically? Are we “robbing” our parents, who pay a hefty annual sum to send us to a […]
How Old Is He
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Q. A single friend of mine who is 48 or 49 would like to marry a woman in her 30′s, so he pretends to be 40. He has asked me to confirm that he is 40 if I am asked. Is what my friend doing alright? Should I play along?  A. This is a common […]
Job Referrals
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Q. I was just asked to give a reference for a former employee. I want to give the prospective employer as much information as possible, but I’m afraid of bad-mouthing my former hire. A. Many employers consider giving references a nightmare for this very reason. Let’s try and make some order of the different considerations […]
Money-Back Guarantee
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Q. A mail order clothing company promises: “If you are not completely satisfied with any item you buy from us, at any time during your use of it, return it and we will refund your full purchase price.” Can I return items that are no longer wearable because of normal conditions such as stains and […]
Kicking Back Kickbacks
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Q. I’m a professional photographer. Photographing kids’ sports teams is good business, because parents are always eager to buy the pictures. But it’s impossible to get hired for these jobs without paying kickbacks to the coach. Can I make these payments, or do I have to give up on this lucrative business?  A. In public […]