Advice on manners and morals (March 6, 2008).

Advice on manners and morals.
March 6 2008 7:18 AM

It's No Secret

I told a friend her husband was hiding things from her. Now I can't handle the fallout!

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—Prudie

Dear Prudie,
I have recently accepted a new job and am leaving my employer of five years. The company has provided me many opportunities, but I am ready for a greater challenge and a better salary. That is not, however, the only reason I have decided to move on. The person who manages my department has been very difficult to work with. He mismanages the department and on occasion makes unethical business decisions. Additionally, he has said inappropriate things that could be construed as sexual harassment and discrimination. Before I began with the department, there were seven other women who quit in a three-year period. I work in an almost exclusively male industry, and this behavior is often swept under the rug. Many of my friends whom I have confided in over the years urge me to finally say something to the department director before I leave. I have made past attempts, all of them futile. My friends believe I have a moral obligation to report the manager so that the next person in my job won't have to suffer. But I would rather leave on the best terms. What should I do?

—Resignation Obligation?

Dear Resignation,
You need to examine what you feel obligated to do and what you feel able to do—and what the consequences are. I talked to employment attorney Philip Gordon of the Gordon Law Group in Boston. He said that given your circumstances, you do not have a legal duty to blow the whistle. But he said that if you go ahead, you should do so with the knowledge that even though you are leaving the firm, you could find yourself subject to retaliation or bad-mouthing within your industry. The law provides ever-stronger safeguards against such payback, but Gordon says proving it can be a wrenching process. You have spoken up over the years to no effect. So, how much attention is the department director going to give you now that you're on your way out? To take this on would be an admirable thing, but you have to want to, and your letter says you don't. If you decide to leave with just smiles and handshakes, go ahead without berating yourself. Gordon adds that if another woman comes along who does take legal action, then you can help her by making yourself available as a witness.

—Prudie

Dear Prudence,
My parents are coming up on their 25th wedding anniversary. I am excited for them and was planning on throwing a small party for friends and family. My mom got wind of the idea, and now she wants to throw herself a full-fledged wedding, complete with cake, dress—the works—because her wedding was not like the weddings people are having today. I think it's in poor taste—you've had your day, it's now time to step aside. My siblings say if she wants another wedding, let her have one. Am I wrong about this?

—Unsure

Dear Unsure,
With all the advances in obstetrics in the past 25 years, just be glad your mother doesn't want to call you up in front of the guests and re-enact your birth. I'm with you that it's somewhat creepy to watch a long-married couple pretend they're young again (and I hope your mother doesn't choose one of the "hot bride" wedding dresses). But I agree with your siblings that if that's what she wants, keep quiet about it. Remember, since some guests will find it moving, and others will find it appalling, everyone will be entertained.

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—Prudie