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Should I Blow the Whistle on a Co-Worker?

Q: I recently learned, quite by accident, that a colleague at my office has grossly misstated her academic credentials on her resume (which I have seen), probably since before she came to work at our company.

Q: I recently learned, quite by accident, that a colleague at my office has grossly misstated her academic credentials on her resume (which I have seen), probably since before she came to work at our company. She's an excellent executive and a very nice person, but I am troubled by this ethical lapse, which she doesn't know that I know about. I don't want to see her fired -- which is our company's stated remedy for resume fraud -- but I also don't want her to get away with this. What should I do?

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I suggest you speak in confidence with your human-resources manager, without identifying the colleague. Try to get the manager's agreement that, if the executive comes forward "voluntarily" to correct her resume, she won't be fired. But don't be surprised if the manager says that a probationary memo must be placed in the executive's personnel file.

Then go to the executive and encourage her to correct her record with the HR department. Tell her it's the right thing to do, and you have reason to think the company will respond compassionately. She will probably agree, now that she knows you are aware of her transgression and can check her resume again, and recognizes the risk to her career from letting the charade continue. If she fails to do this after six months or so, you are ethically entitled to identify her to HR.

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Q: My parents can afford to pay for me to go to college, but they are refusing. They say their parental responsibilities ended when I turned 18, and now I'm on my own. Are they right?

Legally, yes. But I would suggest that you courteously probe the reasons for their refusal, which could include one or more of the following: stinginess, a lack of respect for higher education, concern about your readiness for college, or a sincere feeling that college will mean more to you if you pay all or most of the costs yourself. I hope they will eventually agree to contribute something.

Have a money-and-ethics question you'd like answered in this column? Write to editor in chief Knight Kiplinger at ethics@kiplinger.com.

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