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Lying in order to get time off work

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LoBagola
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So in your scenario rules were broken. Does that mean someone telling you they were sick when they actually interviewed or you giving sick leave to someone you knew was interviewing because you couldn't grant it any other way(and then taking on the responsibility yourself for the lie)?

I've never had the experience of someone telling me they're going for an interview elsewhere. (It might have happened and I may have forgotten.) The general convention in every company I've worked at is that people rarely tell this to even their closest pals at work, until they are pretty certain they've got another option in hand. I was saying, hypothetically, that I would cover for them if they did tell me and if I wanted to retain them. Now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure that I've been lied to about reasons for leave when the person was actually going to attend an interview. It's not what one thinks of when someone says they're quitting.

Quitting a job or being fired from it is the exception to the typical relationship, because it ends the relationship. It is very rare for either side to give the other notice of it (employers sometimes do when they're covering themselves against a suit). Neither side has an expectation of being warned that they intend to break the relationship.

Edited by softwareNerd
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I agree. I expect, with high probability, needing to quit; but, that doesn't invalidate the principle that I shouldn't lie in order to acquire a value (time-off work). And if I don't follow principles I'm utlimately riding on whims.

Why shouldn't you lie in order to acquire a value? Does context matter when you're applying this principle? Should you always not lie? If it's ok to lie in certain contexts, isn't the assumption that you're lying to gain a value?

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...isn't the assumption that you're lying to gain a value?

I'm not arguing against your larger point, but I think when Objectivists say that, what they really mean is closer to "don't lie to steal a value". The idea then is that the relationship is a normal, non-coerced, commercial one, and the context is a regular western country...so, lying within that relationship, about aspects where there is an expectation of trust (implicitly agreed to by being in the relationship) can be viewed as fraud.

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Earlier in my career, I did mention the prospect of looking for employment elsewhere. My boss, at the time, made note of it, and at a later point in time called me discreetly into a meeting room. He pointed out that there are employers out there that might take that as being dissatisfied with the current situation and might fire someone for making a comment like that.

 

He did not fire me, he just took the time to bring that aspect into perspective.

In my experience, you got lucky!

 

I haven't found it to be norm for companies to understand and expect turnover of any kind openly, for whatever reason. There are many legitimate reasons for people to quit. It's like an open, unacknowledged secret. Why is it automatically offensive to quit, is what I want to know.

 

I was listening to a book, forgotten now, a business guy talking about his first job. When he'd found new employment, what he'd been working toward, he took it upon himself to find and train a replacement for his old position. He didn't think anything of it, doing it automatically, motivated by his common sense. When he announced to his boss that he was leaving, and let him introduce his replacement, Phil, his boss looked stunned and muttered some weird well-wishes!

 

Obviously an employer should probably be involved in almost all new hire situations, but I liked the sentiment.

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I'm not arguing against your larger point, but I think when Objectivists say that, what they really mean is closer to "don't lie to steal a value". The idea then is that the relationship is a normal, non-coerced, commercial one, and the context is a regular western country...so, lying within that relationship, about aspects where there is an expectation of trust (implicitly agreed to by being in the relationship) can be viewed as fraud.

I'm sensing that my responses in this thread don't seem to match the other participants, maybe because I'm coming from some extensive experience in lower-level employment. The sad fact is that lower-level employers don't care how honest you are, their number one concern is navigating a poisoned employment pool of bottom-barrel people who are literally scheming ways to screw over their hit-and-run job. In my experience, it's not possible to keep a job like this and be honest with your intentions. It's a constant game of catering to mostly hidden agendas of mostly incompetent management. That's the context I've been thinking about.

Edited by JASKN
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I'm saying that all people must be treated as worthwhile traders in some respect, unless they demonstrate themselves to be irrational.

I agree with this. I just don't think a person needs to be proven to be 70% irrational (or whatever) before it's OK to start protecting your own interests by lying to them. They can do just a few irrational things to meet my tolerance level.

Edited by JASKN
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The sad fact is that lower-level employers don't care how honest you are, their number one concern is navigating a poisoned employment pool of bottom-barrel people who are literally scheming ways to screw over their hit-and-run job.

Yes, you're right about the difference in boss-subordinate attitudes at lower levels within large organizations. It's also the situation that the OP has described, and -- based on his previous attempt to get time off for personal reasons -- there's little reason to doubt his judgement.
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I've never had the experience of someone telling me they're going for an interview elsewhere. (It might have happened and I may have forgotten.) The general convention in every company I've worked at is that people rarely tell this to even their closest pals at work, until they are pretty certain they've got another option in hand. I was saying, hypothetically, that I would cover for them if they did tell me and if I wanted to retain them. Now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure that I've been lied to about reasons for leave when the person was actually going to attend an interview. It's not what one thinks of when someone says they're quitting.

Quitting a job or being fired from it is the exception to the typical relationship, because it ends the relationship. It is very rare for either side to give the other notice of it (employers sometimes do when they're covering themselves against a suit). Neither side has an expectation of being warned that they intend to break the relationship.

Of those that lied to you to get leave, do you think it was immoral (not in their self-interest) for them to do so?

 

 

 

 

Why shouldn't you lie in order to acquire a value? Does context matter when you're applying this principle? Should you always not lie? If it's ok to lie in certain contexts, isn't the assumption that you're lying to gain a value?

If i like to acquire a value am I not committing fraud? I agreed to work in this environment in exchange for payment and so by lying to acquire a value (time off work) I have set the precedent that my bosses, contractors need to be manipulated for me to be productive. 

 

In regards to context, I think it could matter. If I'm  living in an anarchic state, and have been locked up in a cell by some rogue group and have the chance to escape by lying to a random prison guard (who might be innocent) I would do it. There I'm acquiring a value (freedom / life) by lying. 

 

But could I also say I'm defending a value, life? When I think about specific situations I can't think of any right now where I would lie to acquire a value. That is the way I've formulated the principle behind honesty combined with trading — don't lie to acquire a value.

 

I agree with this. I just don't think a person needs to be proven to be 70% irrational (or whatever) before it's OK to start protecting your own interests by lying to them. They can do just a few irrational things to meet my tolerance level.

In this case am I protecting or advancing interests? To me protecting would mean maintaining what I currently have. Advancing would mean increasing my current lot (career). So in this case I would be attempting to advance interests by lying.

 

 

LoBogola, to get you thinking of all angles here, what are potential good consequences you can think of by following SL's option number 2? What principles would you apply to find an answer?

Good outcomes

- I get time off and make up for it with overtime

- In my final interview for the other job they ask me about work and I tell them about the honest relationship and how I'm making up for the lost work time by helping my current employer with overtime

- Even if I don't get the other role I won't lose my work AND I feel comfortable with my boss, I don't feel like I need to lie, I feel like I can be open and in general I'll feel better in that environment, which is a tough environment as is.

-I'll start slowly internalizing the idea that people can be talked to with reason. And no matter what my current cynical view of others my projections may be totally off and it would be very nice for reality and another person to correct my views here to something more positive

 

Bad

-My boss can't help me and I have to quit

-I got to the second interview and tell them I had to quit and they don't understand why I made such a big fuss about another interview and quit my previous job. They'll view me as idealistic and impractical and not someone they want working there.

-I have to quit and don't land the other job. I'll have a terrible Nov-Jan period because I'll be unemployed and stressed out rather than focused on growing, learning, studying, enjoying

 

 

Question. If the boss tells me to just call in sick, would I quit then? Because if I call in sick I'm still lying to the contractor. This is an unlikely, but also terrible scenario I'm projecting.

 

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Also in telling the truth I open up a greater range of potential, unforeseen outcomes. For example, like agreeing to some deal of exchanging over-time and that leading my to land the job because the interviewer at the other job is impressed.

 

AND even if it goes badly I do accumulate a heap of experiential data which which I can then use later by either confirming my projections of possible events, or starting a journey to correct them, which may carry over into similar, but unrelated, social situations. Sure, I'll suffer a little over the holidays and be stressed out, so trying this is higher immediate risk than lying, but it might also be better for gaining experience and knowledge long-term.

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Of those that lied to you to get leave, do you think it was immoral (not in their self-interest) for them to do so?

I expect people who work with me or for me or above me to hide the fact that they are interviewing with another company. I fully expect this to be hidden from me and from my other co-workers. In my experience -- mostly with programmers -- if the people

I don't think the lying would make too much difference to the other person because it is rare for others to feel a sense of betrayal when they learn a person has lied to them while they've actually been interviewing elsewhere. Still, on balance, I'd say that telling the truth would have won out in the contexts I've seen. The reason is this: when the person has been someone below average, I doubt their attempts to interview would get them pushed out. If anything, it might delay the effort, with a manager thinking "maybe they'll go gracefully and spare me the trouble of firing them". With people who are above average, a good manager would like to know that they have reached this point, and would like to try doing what he can to prevent the person from leaving.

However, these are contexts where firing people is a rare thing. These are contexts where if business is slow for a year, a manager may "sg=hare" out a job between two people rather than fire one. So, it probably would not apply in a context where people are treated more like Item Number 98761 and firing excess workers is routine.

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i like to acquire a value am I not committing fraud? I agreed to work in this environment in exchange for payment and so by lying to acquire a value (time off work) I have set the precedent that my bosses, contractors need to be manipulated for me to be productive.

What did you agree to, exactly? There is a broad sweep of tasks and responsibilities for any job. Even if your employer explicitly lays out every nuance of every task that you're expected to complete under your job title, there are countless expectations they keep which may never be stated at all: how easy you are to work with given that present set of employees (no way to make rules for this, and it's usually not communicated as feedback to you from them very well), how thorough and quality is your work, and, yes, how often you show up for work, even if you honestly follow their attendance guidelines. (Even if they approve your time off, it may leave a sour taste in their mouth after a while which isn't communicated.)

All of these rules and expectations from the employer's side, but what about your side? What exactly do you agree to? If they surprise you with hidden, implied expectations and it becomes clear to you that you had better at least act like you're following them or your job may be in jeopardy, what do you do?

There are many elements at play within any job context -- personalities, false rules "on the books," real rules not on the books, etc. There are plenty of scenarios where lying to your employer could be the best thing to do, and where telling the truth would leave you both worse off.

Let me illustrate with a personal example. I once had an employee hit me in the face. It wasn't surprising, he was universally hated in an already physically-intensive working environment (ie. mood swings were an expected reality). And, we hated each other. On this particular day, I was doing both his job and my job (as usual) and pointing that out to management, which he didn't like and so he decided to try to threaten me. Management hated this guy, but due to their spineless dispositions and some ambiguous company rules regarding productivity, he was never punished or fired, despite never doing an adequate job.

Naively, I thought his hitting me and my not retaliating would be the easiest, most perfect opportunity for management to deal with him. After all, it doesn't get much worse than the most hated, worst employee hitting the best employee, right? Nope. As soon as the news left my mouth, I saw fear in their eyes. What ensued was a pathetic display of gutless rule picking-and-choosing. After all was said and done, I was told that I was lucky to not have been fired because of a zero-tolerance fight policy. After talking with them privately, I have no doubt that the management would have preferred that I had not reported the guy at all. At the same time, I was told that I was required to report all physical abuse. So, two rules were on their books that guaranteed I would get fired if someone hit me -- report someone else, to get zero-tolerance fired! By the way, I didn't get fired. Turns out their spinelessness went both ways, and they'd rather make it "well, almost-zero-tolerance" if the worker in question (me) was worth keeping around.

In the real world, honesty to yourself is the best policy, but not necessarily honesty to others.

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"My boss can't help me and I have to quit"
You don't have to quit. It's their choice to keep you or not. Supposing it ends up as being fired, why is it bad? You care more about getting by to a paycheck through manipulation?

"I got to the second interview and tell them I had to quit and they don't understand why I made such a big fuss about another interview and quit my previous job. They'll view me as idealistic and impractical and not someone they want working there."
More like you'd explain why you got fired: because you were honest in a simple way and allow your employer to decide. If that's too fussy, and too idealistic, why work there?

"I have to quit and don't land the other job. I'll have a terrible Nov-Jan period because I'll be unemployed and stressed out rather than focused on growing, learning, studying, enjoying"
Would you be starving? What changes in February? Can you monetize existing skills of yours?

By the way, I didn't get fired.

Did you quit instead? If not, why not?
 
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If that's too fussy, and too idealistic, why work there?

[...]

Would you be starving?

What are the reasons for your standards here? Life isn't an ideal, it's a sequence of real events in real time. Sometimes, a paycheck is *exactly* what you need, and all other standards aren't all that important, like working conditions, difficult coworkers, or bad management.

Is your answer to his dilemma really, "Only lie if you'd be starving otherwise."? Why have you chosen this arbitrary standard?

Did you quit instead? If not, why not?

I did not quit, because I needed the job. Even just looking for new employment is a long, annoying (at minimum) process, with no guarantee of success. Should we drag ourselves financially to the point of starvation, at an employer's arbitrary mercy, while we try to get new work? What sense does that make?

In my view, if you're doing your job per hour of pay (for hourly, low-end jobs), that's the minimum moral requirement. It's called at-will employment for a reason, and it goes both ways.

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Jaskn:

 

What is your view of Honesty as a virtue (see OPAR... or Rand's various quotes), and moreover the idea that "unbreached rationality" i.e. moral perfection, IS attainable (also in OPAR and Rand's various quotes)?

 

In view of there being no exceptions to principles and at the same time exercising virtues is contextual... can you resolve the disconnect between yourself and other Objectivists in this thread?

 

-SL

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I don't think there is a disconnect between myself and Objectivist principles. Objectivism is for individuals who put themselves before everything else. If anything, telling the truth to a dishonest or irrational person because it is "virtuous" is, to me, inconsistent with Objectivist principles.

Edit: I've been trying to say as much by distinguishing between adhering to the truth yourself vs. always telling the truth to others, no matter the context.

Edited by JASKN
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What are the reasons for your standards here? Life isn't an ideal, it's a sequence of real events in real time. Sometimes, a paycheck is *exactly* what you need, and all other standards aren't all that important, like working conditions, difficult coworkers, or bad management.

Is your answer to his dilemma really, "Only lie if you'd be starving otherwise."? Why have you chosen this arbitrary standard?

Skipping the inductive parts, I can make my argument clearer.

1) The standard of morality is one's own life.

2) Virtues are the sole means to maintain and pursue life and values.

3) Honesty is a virtue. It means portraying yourself as you are, allowing others to judge you, and to judge yourself.

4) If a person is unable and unwilling to judge rationally, they are not honest.

4a) 2 is made irrelevant to them.

5) If you portray yourself as something you are not, you are not honest.

5a) 2 is made irrelevant to you.

6) A lie is portraying yourself as something you are not.

6a) Lying to 4 means denying 3.

7) If 4 is true, they don't pursue life or values.

7a) 4 has no value to offer.

7b) 2 is undermined; value is not being acquired.

Therefore, 8) Lying seeks nonvalue.

[Context] 0) When 1 is undermined, everything else is irrelevant.

 

*

"I did not quit, because I needed the job. Even just looking for new employment is a long, annoying (at minimum) process, with no guarantee of success. Should we drag ourselves financially to the point of starvation, at an employer's arbitrary mercy, while we try to get new work? What sense does that make?"

This is the same form of argument used  by low-wage fast food workers. "I need the job. Looking for a job is not a promise of success. Should I drag myself financially by looking for a lucrative job? I may starve. I'm at my employer's arbitrary mercy, I can't afford to leave for only a potential chance at new work? No other jobs are available! So I am effectively forced to work here. What sense does that make? Raise the minimum wage!"

There are always other places to go. Remaining at bad places is irrational. I brought up The Fountainhead, not just because you know it, but because it's probably the best example of independence in a modern world. The supposed "bad" options were not bad, or even torturous, to Roark. He'd sooner quit than say he "needs" the job. He didn't starve. That's the point of the book! You aren't going to die by not having to rely on second-handed or irrational people for a job - independence is possible, even employment independence.

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"I did not quit, because I needed the job. Even just looking for new employment is a long, annoying (at minimum) process, with no guarantee of success. Should we drag ourselves financially to the point of starvation, at an employer's arbitrary mercy, while we try to get new work? What sense does that make?"

This is the same form of argument used by low-wage fast food workers. "I need the job. Looking for a job is not a promise of success. Should I drag myself financially by looking for a lucrative job? I may starve. I'm at my employer's arbitrary mercy, I can't afford to leave for only a potential chance at new work? No other jobs are available! So I am effectively forced to work here. What sense does that make? Raise the minimum wage!"

I wrote that I was the best employee. That wasn't an embellishment. Productivity was tracked with computers, and every single day I did 40% more manual labor work 50-60% faster than 100 other employees who were all physically 30-50% larger than me, which doesn't take into account the endless fixes I also did along the way of their mistakes. The only time I wasn't at work was when I was in the hospital. I bet anyone who worked with me still talks about how I worked, years later -- they joked about it while I was there. I also wrote that an hour's wage should constitute at minimum an hour's work. But, I'm a Keating...? I want to force employers to pay me more than it's worth for the same job?

There are always other places to go. Remaining at bad places is irrational. I brought up The Fountainhead, not just because you know it, but because it's probably the best example of independence in a modern world. The supposed "bad" options were not bad, or even torturous, to Roark. He'd sooner quit than say he "needs" the job. He didn't starve. That's the point of the book! You aren't going to die by not having to rely on second-handed or irrational people for a job - independence is possible, even employment independence.

I keep mentioning "the real world" and talking negatively of "idealism" because, for example, the takeaway from Fountainhead shouldn't be, "If I'm rational everything will be ok with everyone else!" I get the impression that you underestimate the many levels of irrationality in others no matter how rational you present yourself to them in an employment environment. Stay rational yourself, but *why* would you just sit around and allow others' irrationality to mess up your own life in any way? Also, you seem to understand the badness of time-sensitive contexts where you could come out the loser, but only if it's bad enough for you that you're "starving." But really, *any* negative net effect on yourself should be avoided if possible -- not just the worst of it.

3) Honesty is a virtue. It means portraying yourself as you are, allowing others to judge you, and to judge yourself.

It sometimes means the second part, it always means the first part to yourself.
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I keep mentioning "the real world" and talking negatively of "idealism" because, for example, the takeaway from Fountainhead shouldn't be, "If I'm rational everything will be ok with everyone else!" I get the impression that you underestimate the many levels of irrationality in others no matter how rational you present yourself to them in an employment environment. Stay rational yourself, but *why* would you just sit around and allow others' irrationality to mess up your own life in any way? Also, you seem to understand the badness of time-sensitive contexts where you could come out the loser, but only if it's bad enough for you that you're "starving." But really, *any* negative net effect on yourself should be avoided if possible -- not just the worst of it.

No, I am saying the logical structure is the same, where the justification of your action is that since you are at your employer's arbitrary mercy, you are stuck with your situation. Thus, resorting to a typically immoral act is fine, since those employer's aren't rational or worth listening to. I'm not saying you are a Keating, but I'm only seeing Keatingian implications that we may start lying if we want to keep a job from a bad employer.

 

Yes, negatives are to be avoided - the job is the negative. So avoid it by leaving the job. It relates to the OP because whether LoBogola gets fired or not will end up as good. What are the bad consequences? Will he really end up suffering? I'm saying no, no suffering is required. Better to let people act and evaluate their actions than divine what the employer "will" do. Telling the truth would reveal where the people involved stand.

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Honesty cannot mean a categorical duty to divulge all that's in your mind to anyone - unless it is with a person of highest value to you. We can operate in full honesty with a range of people who don't merit a total "need to know". It's implied that going on an interview for another job means you're dissatisfied with the present one - or you believe you can increase your income, ambitions, etc. - so, to be 'honest' would require that you confess unhappiness to your present employer, long before you start looking elsewhere? I don't think so. Especially when it might strain relations and put you under pressure at work.

A written or spoken contract is ethically binding, but no more.

Putting in for time off for the interview, should simply involve requesting leave for a personal matter, without deceit.

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A little background before I update. Before this thread I had already lied about an interview (for the same firm, but they have multiple). And lying about being sick when I wasn't made me uncomfortable.

 

So an update. We have one on one meetings every month to review our performances. I had one on the 18th (so while already posting here). I'm still confused, morally speaking. I don't know what's right. But I reasoned that the payoff of telling the truth would be a great lesson in human nature. Was the world and are people really as bad as I assume? And if I do lose my job over it then it would really suck but it'd just give me a painfully motivating kick to pack up my bags and move to another city with more work. 

 

I didn't plan to do it, I was still thinking about it. But some feeling during the meeting with my manager caused me to tell her that the last time I called in sick I was lying, and that I'd actually been interviewing for a big firm (that was the third interview, and I posted here when I knew a fourth was coming). She laughed and now I'm making up for it with over-time. I didn't get that other job so I'm still at the call center. 

 

Upside is I've added a few positive points to my view of people (see my other thread on moments counting in sense of life). My manager can be reasoned with.

I now think I can look for work elsewhere comfortably

I feel somewhat more valued then before

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That's an excellent ending to the story. You know people are better than you gave them credit for. You also know they value you more than you had assumed. Hopefully, having shared a confidence makes the relationship with your boss a tiny little bit better. One question: did she try to find out why you would want to leave, or ask what you wanted, or suggest that the current company could be a place for you in the longer run, or something like that?

 

I don't know your background, so this is not a presumptuous comment about you, just something I am reminded of by this incident. People who come from blue-collar backgrounds and who do not see themselves as ever being managers (maybe a supervisor but no more) often see middle and senior managers as a different class of people. And, it works the other way too: people who have grown up knowing they will go to college and be dropped in to an organizational level as a junior manager, often see blue-collar folk as a different class. When I say they're seen as a different class, I mean they're stereo-typed. So, when I look at my two buddies they're two different people, with different good and bad things about them, and the same ought to be true when I look at the grunts a few levels below me, who earn a third of what I do, and the same ought to be true when I look at the people a few layers above me who earn 3 times what I do. Instead, sometimes/often, people will view the grunts as inter-changeable "item # 1254" even though they don't want their own higher ups viewing them that way. Middle and senior managers who look at the super-senior people, once again have this class-view. So, some anarchist who earns well and sees himself as permanently middle-class will look at a Goldman Sachs CEO as a person who belongs to a class rather than as a person.

 

Stereotypes get perpetuated because they "work". If one uses class-probability (rather than individual evaluation) when dealing with a person from some "class", the odds will favor you over complete random selection. The lesson is that individual-evaluation is what gives you the edge (as an observer). And, being able to demonstrate your positive qualities gives you an edge (as the observed).

Edited by softwareNerd
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