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Blame Game
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Q. In our workplace, shifting blame is commonplace. How can I defend myself without being unfair to others? A. While to err is human, no one wants to get left holding the bag — especially if it may damage chances for a raise or a promotion. In many workplaces, the result is that much productive […]
Sweatshops
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Q. Many consumer products are made in third world countries in sweatshop conditions. Is buying these products exploiting the workers? Or perhaps it is actually helping them, because it provides them with work and gives them a chance to improve living conditions? What about the effect on local workers? A. The foreign sweatshop debate has […]
Fishy Fine Print
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Q. When a distant store had a sale on tuna, I made a special trip to stock up. But when I arrived, they showed me the fine print of the ad stating “limited quantity.” Shouldn’t this have been more prominent? A. A well-known Talmudic discussion will provide the precise answer to your question. Nowadays we […]
Leading By Example
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Q. You wrote that when we can’t realistically create solidarity with distant sweatshop workers, it may be better to concentrate on improving conditions for local workers, who are really far better off. [See: Sweatshops] Isn’t this evading our responsibility to help the impoverished? A. In a recent column, we discussed the value in Jewish tradition […]
Charitable Return
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Q. I’m embarrassed to return money I owe someone. Can I just give the money to charity? A. Jewish tradition places the highest value on returning property to its owner. Anyone who takes someone else’s property, even inadvertently, is obligated to return it. As we pointed out in a previous column, we are generally obliged […]
Ethical Work
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Q. What does Judaism say about the work ethic? A. The term “work ethic” conjures up the image of legions of devoted and diligent workers. But a closer analysis reveals that this phrase actually has two distinct meanings. On the one hand, we use it to describe someone who has good work habits: when at […]
Monitoring Workers
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Q. There was recently a high-profile case of a manager who lost his job because he was caught viewing improper web sites. How much intrusive monitoring is ethical, and how should management react to its findings? A. There is no doubt that it is proper and even vital to keep an eye on workers to […]
Beggars’ Letters
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Q. Many charity seekers come to my door with recommendation letters from well-known rabbis or organizations. Can I rely on these letters to determine who is truly needy? A. Giving letters of recommendation to help worthy charity recipients is a centuries-old tradition in Jewish communities. Knowing that an august authority vouches for the bearer, or […]
360-Degree Feedback
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Q. Many workplaces are instituting 360-degree evaluations. Is this innovation ethically justified? A. The “360-degree” evaluation involves input not only from a worker’s supervisor, but also from colleagues and even from subordinates. The practical advantage of this approach is clear: it has the potential to provide invaluable information to management, since most of a person’s […]
Lets Shake On It
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Q. Recently I shook hands with a client who wants to lease some commercial space that has been vacant for a while, thus entering into an informal agreement. Days later a current tenant with an adjacent lease asked to rent the same space to expand her business! What do I do now? A. You certainly […]