When it Comes to Doing Right By Your Coworker, Forget HR

What does it mean to be a bystander in a toxic workplace? Sometimes it means being forced to decide between doing what you know is right and protecting your job. In this excellent installment of The Ethicist in the New York Times Magazine, Kwame Anthony Appiah discusses the quandary of an office worker who knows a young coworker was unjustly fired. The advice given is very sound and reflects the situation that many people face at work. In a perfect world, the correspondent should have been able to go to human resources with her problem. However, as I discuss in From Bully to Bull’s-Eye: Move Your Organization Out of the Line of Fire, in toxic cultures human resources is part of the problem, rather than being part of the solution—which is what makes Appiah’s advice in the column so on target.

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