Q: I recently caught my co-worker lying to our boss, and using me as her excuse for leaving the office early and for not completing her work assignments. What should I do?
A: This situation hits at the crux of an all-too-common ethical dilemma in the workplace: When is it OK to cover for a colleague who’s told a fib? In you case, something rotten is obviously going on, but apparently your sense of loyalty to your co-worker is stopping you from exposing her lies. My question for you is this: Has she given any thought to the untenable position she’s putting you in by making you an accomplice to her deception? Imagine what would happen to you if management not only caught her in her lies, but found out you knew she was deceiving the company. The bottom line: You shouldn’t worry about the consequences to her, because she certainly hasn’t worried about you. You really have no choice but to go directly to your boss and explain what’s been going on. Otherwise, your job may be on the line. When you do, be precise, don’t elaborate beyond what you actually know, and don’t feel obligated to apologize for your co-worker or explain her behavior. When is it acceptable to cover for a co-worker’s lie? The answer is simple: never.