Q:A hospital where my father has worked hired a new department manager. My father's friend discovered that the university that granted her MBA is unaccredited and offers life-experience degrees from its headquarters on a Caribbean island. While she never directly lied, and an MBA is not required for the job, physicians now have doubts about her. She would probably not have been hired had personnel known about the shady degree. Should she be fired for her implicit lie?
A: Should someone submit a misleading resume with impunity? Certainly not. When a dubious entry appears on a resume, should that new employee be flogged through the hospital, from obstetrics to cardiology? Again, no. Okay, you proposed not thrashing but dismissal, but even so, your remedy is likely too harsh and surely premature.
Most significant, it is not clear that this manager did lie. If she listed the correct name of this half-baked institution, she may have given a ludicrously burnished impression to any casual reader, but a resume is not for the casual reader. It is to be examined assiduously - schools phoned, experience confirmed, references checked - by a fastidious professional. One consequence of this episode should be more stringent procedures in the human resources department or even sanctions against the administrator who failed to scrutinize this resume.
In light of this revelation, the hospital should reconsider the new manager's appointment, vetting her with the thoroughness it should have applied in the first place. It may be that her education and experience amply equip her for her duties, in which case she should keep her job; it is noteworthy, after all, that an MBA is not a job requirement. But even then, if a re-examination reveals her to have been deceitful, some punishment short of firing - suspension or a fine, perhaps - is appropriate.
UPDATE: The letter writer says that a week into the new job, after a talk with one of her superiors about her qualifications, the manager submitted her letter of resignation.
No hidden agendas
Q:A high school team I belong to held a fundraiser, sending letters to friends and family soliciting donations. Some teammates' parents had qualms about this. They felt that it was equivalent to asking others to pay for their sons' expenses. Is this a valid reason not to participate in the fundraiser?
A: Well, of course you're asking other people to pay for your expenses: That's what a fundraiser does. Similarly, when you receive a solicitation letter from Doctors Without Borders or the ASPCA or a political candidate, you are being asked to help pay somebody's expenses. And like those groups, you are not forcing anyone to contribute: no threats of reprisals, no hints of violence. (And, alas, no car wash, no bake sale. Have you no respect for tradition? No love of brownies?) Those you importune can decide if they deem your team a worthy cause that they wish to underwrite. Some people may donate out of altruism; others because they believe youth sports benefit the entire community, not just the athletes themselves. But as long as your fundraiser is legal, transparent and free from conflicts of interest and untoward pressure on potential donors, there's no ethical bar to any family's participation.
An argument against this kind of ad hoc financing, however: It undermines the idea that sports should be part of the general school budget, paid for out of public funds. Your team's actions encourage local officials to rely on private money. Hence your fundraising may have short-term benefits but threaten school sports in the long run.
This column originally appeared in the New York Times Magazine. Send questions and comments by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.