Recently, I was taking a test, during which we were not allowed to use calculators. This is an upperclassman-level test, so the professors are fairly trusting. I noticed that a friend was using a calculator, which, as I have said, was not allowed on the test. Based on my discussions with him/her prior to the test, I am certain that this was totally an honest mistake on his/her part.
What should I do in this particular situation, and what is ethical in the general case?
–Witness of Unintentional Cheating
I recently started my own business. In my field, my salary is derived in two ways: 1) an hourly charge, and 2) a mark-up on materials that I personally purchase for the construction projects. Since I am a business owner, I am able to buy supplies at wholesale rates; it is customary in my field not to tell clients the profit made on these purchases.
I think I should be honest with my clients, though. Since I am already making money by the hour, it seems excessive to also make a profit on purchases. However, I worry that if I tell my clients about the customary mark-ups I am revealing a secret of my industry, which will create complications for my colleagues in this field.
Should I follow my own ethical code and be honest with my clients? Or be loyal to my industry and follow its customs?
My friend was recently offered a job in a new department at our company. I was actually the one who told him about the new opportunity. Recently, however, I’ve heard from a reliable source that this new department is not expected to survive, that it may be a holding tank for people the company wants to get rid of.
I don’t want my friend to lose his job. I’ve told him he should find out more about the new job and make sure it seems sound, but he seems content to believe that it is the best thing ever. I don’t want to tell him exactly what I’ve heard and from whom. My friend has a big mouth and I don’t want it to be known that I have leaked private information.
What should I do? Do I have ethical obligations to my company? To my friend?
–Under the Weight of Knowledge
I work for a company whose clients are property owners. It is my job to advise our clients about their options regarding property damage claims and their potential to recover any damages as a result of poor building, soil damage, or other factors.
I often find myself choosing certain points to emphasize, based on what the client wants to hear, regardless of whether or not the points I emphasize are the most relevant to the situation. Since I work so closely with these clients, I find that omitting or deemphasizing the negative is better than upsetting them about the unknown. It also helps me keep a better working relationship with the client. Is this ethical behaviour?
— Little Gray Lies
I come from a country that most people I meet in the United States think is very conservative. People here like to ask me questions about my country, such as how women are viewed there and if they are less important than men. Although some of the points they mention are facts, they tend to be very much exaggerated.
I have a very serious mental illness and would like to be open about it, but I am not sure how soon to reveal it to people or to whom I should be open about it. It is well-maintained and most people don’t even know I have a problem until they either see me taking medicine or I tell them about it. One day, I would like to educate the world about it, but most people already have misconceptions about the illness and make jokes about it. How do I handle this without overexposing myself?
-Weighing Education and Exposure
A friend recently broke up with his girlfriend. They’d been having real problems for a while, so it seemed pretty inevitable. I met this girl through my friend and we’ve hung out a few times as a group. I’ve had a crush on her for a while, but I’ve never asked her to hang out because, obviously, she was dating my friend. Would it be wrong for me to ask her out now?
-Crushing on My Friend’s Ex
I am currently dating a sophomore who is a student at a university in Kansas. Recently, we got into a bit of a tiff in regards to whether or not we should inform people we have just met that we are currently in a relationship. I believe that if the topic comes up in conversation, or if the question is asked, then that would be the correct time to inform the new friend. It doesn’t seem necessary to share our relationship status right away. My girlfriend disagrees for two reasons. She feels that it is doing the new friend an injustice by not being completely honest about oneself. She also feels that we should respect each other enough to want to tell people about our significant other. What are your thoughts?
–Honest, but not Overly So
My friend continuously talks to me about problems with her mom. My mom died of cancer when I was younger and it makes me very uncomfortable to hear her complain about her mother. Should I continue listening to her talk about her issues while putting myself through stress or tell her to talk to someone else about it?
–Listener Under Stress
A former teacher of mine recently won a teaching award. I didn’t nominate her for the award, though I wish I did.
I wrote to congratulate her on receiving the prestigious award. She wrote back in an email to a group of our friends, thanking me for nominating her. In the email she mentioned that she wanted to show her gratitude to me and another friend (who actually did write a nomination) by getting us something special when we go to her house in a couple of weeks.
Should I tell my former teacher, who has since become my friend, that I didn’t nominate her? Or should I say nothing and let her believe that I did?
–A Too Secret Admirer