Sunday, April 01, 2007


Most of my readers say that, if they found that their boss had inadvertently left a list of staff salaries in the office copy machine, they would return the list.

Bert Hoogendam of Sarnia, Ontario, Phil Clutts of Harrisburg, N.C., and Jan Bohren of Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., each voted for placing the list in an envelope and returning it to the boss in person.

"No copies, nothing cute," Bohren writes, "just return it to the original sender, telling him/her where you found it."

Kristine Savona would anonymously slip the item into the boss's office in an envelope, however.

"That might ease the boss's mind as well, seeing that someone cared enough to take some discretion in returning the item," Savona writes.

But M. Mason of Windsor, Ontario, writes that the any boss who would leave such a list in a copier for all to see is incompetent.

"Inform no one," Mason advises. "Take the salary list home. Use the salary list for future salary negotiations."

Check out other opinions at or post your own by clicking on "post a comment" or "comments" below.

Jeffrey L. Seglin, author of "The Right Thing: Conscience, Profit and Personal Responsibility in Today's Business" (Smith Kerr, 2006), is an associate professor at Emerson College in Boston, where he teaches writing and 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.

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