Sunday, June 18, 2006


In the case of the worker whose colleague confided in him that their mutual manager had asked him to use his name on an expense report to justify a minor expense, most of my readers felt that the worker should go back to the manager and tell him that, despite his initial agreement, he could not cooperate with the manager's plan.

No one disagreed with Neal White of Atlanta, who writes: "The manager should pay the expense out of his own pocket -- otherwise he is stealing."

Eva Bellinger of Sun Prairie, Wis., feels that the "person whom themanager asked to cover for him is responsible for taking action, not a third party" in whom that person happened to confide.

Judy Finnson of Vancouver, Wash., disagrees.

"If the colleague can't or won't do what's right," Finnson says, "the confidant/friend must."

E. Carroll Straus of San Juan Capistrano, Calif., agrees that, once informed of the situation, the colleague has an obligation to act.

"I would do so," he writes. "Clearly silence is complicity."

Mark Peterson of Verona, Wis., believes that the action speaks to the character of the manager, whom he describes as sounding "like a tiny little manipulator who will likely bury himself on his own sooner than later."

Bert Hoogendam of Ontario notes that, if the manager gets away with it once, his subordinate won't have heard the last of it.

"The colleague did cooperate for the first time," Hoogendam writes, "and that colleague can be assured that he can expect future requests for more bogus claims."

Check out other opinions at or post your own by clicking on "Comments" below.

Jeffrey L. Seglin, author of "The Right Thing: Conscience, Profit andPersonal Responsibility in Today's Business" (Spiro Press, 2003), is an associate professor at Emerson College in Boston, where he teaches writingand ethics. He is also the administrator of, a Web log focused on ethical issues.

Do you have ethical questions that you need answered? Send them to or to "The Right Thing," New York Times Syndicate, 609 Greenwich St., 6th floor, New York, N.Y. 10014-3610.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Whenever it comes to money, people cheat. I spent three years in the mortgage industry seeing this happen daily by everyone! Loans with fraud written all over them went through because the sales person that brought the loan in was a friend of theirs.

Luckily I'm out of that unsound environment!