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
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
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
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
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