Ethics Expert Answers Your Questions

If you want to address the situation while saving your job, you and/or your co-workers should approach the human resources manager or a superior about the problem. Superiors sometimes need a "push" in order to act on problems. Your company's health insurance plan may provide treatment options for your supervisor.

If you are primarily concerned about the supervisor's immediate behavior, then you and/or your co-workers could approach her directly. This move, however, leaves you vulnerable to losing your job.

If you and your co-workers are compelled by multiple goals, consult a drug and alcohol treatment professional in your local area for advice and options. Presenting a clear and doable action plan to your supervisor might make all the difference in her life. YOU are not necessarily the best person to present the plan, however.

Heather from Sacramento, Calif., wrote, "I just watched the show about our basic instincts. It was a powerful show that caused me to look deep inside and really ask myself what I would do in those situations. Too often I found myself saying I wouldn't step in, not because I didn't think I should, but because I didn't want to make a bigger deal out of the situation, and also because I wasn't sure what to say in those situations if I would have, in fact, stepped in.

"I learned that as a citizen on this Earth that we call home, it is my duty and responsibility to step in and take action in these situations. Even if I may not know exactly what to do, doing something -- anything -- would be better than doing nothing at all. What would you do if you were in a grocery store and a woman began yelling at her children and verbally scorning them. What would you recommend to do?"

Keating: This is a tough situation. You'd like to improve the parenting skills of the abusive woman -- not very doable in the time and space of grocery shopping! Best you could do here is short-circuit her behavior using distraction (e.g., move in close with a big smile and ask if she knows where the pickles are!) and counteract the negativity directed toward her children by complimenting them (e.g., address them directly and comment about how they seem like nice children).

A viewer from Kennesaw, Ga., wrote, "You missed an important point on your show about drinking and driving. What about restaurants and bars that serve four, five, six, seven, eight-plus drinks to one person in a short span of time? If we wanted to stop drinking and driving impaired, it would happen. Cars could be equipped with ignition locks. There could be a 'citizen' hotline where we could report to the Department of Treasury when we are aware of bars serving large numbers of drinks to an individual.

"Bars could require individuals drinking more than four drinks to give up their keys and take a breath test before getting the keys back. Lots of easy, no cost, simple things that society could do to stop drinking and driving.

"Bars could also be taxed to help with enforcement. The more I investigate this issue, the more bars I become aware of that are serving lots of drinks to people already drunk and the bartenders know it! Where are the ethics of those bartenders? I know the drinkers should not be drinking that many, but bartenders are our first line of defense against drinkers whose judgment becomes impaired."

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