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Careers – February 2, 2010

What’s Your Beef? Dealing with a drug addled co-worker

The Corner Office Curmudgeon offers advice about life on the job

I suspect one of my co-workers has a drug problem. It has not impacted his work performance as far as I can tell, but I’m concerned that things might get worse. Would I be overstepping to bring my concerns up with him? Would it be better to speak with him directly, leave an anonymous note or just keep out of it?

If it hasn’t affected his work, is it really a problem for you? I don’t know how much experience you’ve had with druggies, but if he does have a problem he’ll deny it, and, given the paranoia that goes with drug use, you’ll have made yourself a new enemy.  Unless you’re his supervisor or it becomes a work issue, stay out of it.

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My boss has begun to insist that I check in with office e-mail from home, during days off and during off-hours. Is this ethical? I give full measure during my 7 1/2 hours on the job; does she have a right to ask me to do this?

I take it you don’t have a contract, which means that, yes, she does have the right to ask you. It’s kind of like airport security. They can ask you to go through all that nonsense if you want to get on the plane. She can ask you to jump through all sorts of hoops to stay employed. On the other hand, do you ever do personal things on company time? There’s the rub.

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Because times are bad, my company has imposed an across-the-board 10 percent pay cut. We are all willing to suck it in a little bit if the company is hurting, but do we now have a right to inspect the company’s books to see if the cuts are truly justified? We are not a union shop.

Short answer: No. But you can be devious and try to find out if anyone in accounting is unhappy enough about the pay cut to tell you.
Or, you could just ask the owner, but that might put you on his short list.

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I work in sales, where I get a small salary, but most of the income comes from commissions. The other day someone came in and made a purchase and mentioned in passing that they had been helped by one of my co-workers who didn’t happen to be in that day. I closed the sale and did all the paperwork involved, so I don’t feel guilty about taking the commission. But should I share it with my co-worker, who made the initial contact? What are the ethics on this?

Ethics, schmethics. You made the sale, you get the commission. Keep in mind, however, that your co-worker isn’t going to be a happy camper. How would you feel if you were on the other end of that stick? Enlightened self-interest would suggest that you talk it over with all of your co-workers and establish an in-house policy. The discussion will tell you a lot about the folks with whom you work. In the end, sharing makes good sense.

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Have a question? E-mail it to getbeef@hawaiibusiness.com or mail it to: What’s Your Beef, c/o Hawaii Business, 1000 Bishop St., Suite 405, Honolulu, HI 96813. Your anonymity will be protected! 

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