CAREERS: Pandora's Problem Page

Q. I have a client that is under a great amount of media scrutiny

arising from a product safety lawsuit. An important reporter in this

client's industry sector called to find out some information about the

development of the product. I got the information from the client and

gave it to the reporter. Well, it seems that the client lied to me, and,

consequently, to the reporter. The article that appeared detailed how

the company's PR agency gave the reporter false information. My

reputation is damaged, along with that of my firm. And I now have to

contend with the fact that my client lied to me, in a context that could

put my agency in legal jeopardy. Should I resign the account in protest?

And is there any way I can prevent clients from lying from me in

future?



Ms. F, Boston



A. First and foremost, resign the account immediately. Put your reasons

for doing so in writing, and send a copy of the letter to the reporter

who wrote the piece. It probably won't change his or her opinion of you,

or the agency, but do it in the interest of full disclosure.



Second, consult an attorney to find out if you have any legal problems

to worry about connected to this incident. Then have the lawyer look

over all of your client contracts and make sure that you are including

the appropriate protection for your firm. If you are properly

contracted, you should not find yourself at risk if your client does not

behave ethically.



As for preventing similar incidents in the future, unfortunately, there

is no way to guarantee that clients won't lie to you, or try to get you

to do their dirty work for them. You must make it clear from the start

that you have a zero tolerance policy towards unethical practices. Now

you have the perfect example of how seriously you take that issue.



Q. Last night, we had our company's annual holiday party, a dinner and

dance river cruise. We floated around for almost four hours, and a lot

of us just kept getting more and more drunk. Towards the end of the

evening, we were giving out our Secret Santa presents. By sheer

coincidence, I had picked my (much older and married) boss. He really

liked his gift, which was a set of funny golf tees, and I told him that

I was his Secret Santa. He said, "Well, thanks Santa," and proceeded to

give me a kiss, which was fine at first. But the kiss went a little too

long. I managed to get away and he didn't even seem to notice or

care.



He has not mentioned it since and is not treating me any differently. My

roommate says it was sexual harassment, and her argument for reporting

him makes sense. What should I do?



Ms. G, New York



A. I'm sure you were caught off guard, but ideally, you should have made

it clear at the time that his advances were unwelcome. I was not there

to observe the scene, so it is difficult for me to advise you on your

legal options. But I can definitely suggest that you read up on the

definition of sexual harassment.



An excellent resource is Information on Sexual Harassment (http://

www.de.psu.edu/harassment/) Write down everything that you remember

about the incident, and think carefully about the consequences of either

course.



Do you have a problem that no one else has been able to help you solve?

Let Pandora try. E-mail her at pandora@prweek.com.



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