Noontime Ethics, 8/18/2021: The Segue Edition


1. Combine mental health with unaccountable female superstar athletes and you get.…another “How dare you expect me to answer questions like any other pro athlete, you sexists racist!” moment from Naomi Osaka. Ahead of the Western & Southern Open in Mason, Ohio, tennis’s reigning queen finally agreed to sit down for questions from the press on a Zoom call. You will recall that at the French Open in May, she said she would decline to do pretournament or post-match news conferences, even though they are required of all players. When Osaka was fined $15,000 for skipping her press commitments after her first-round victory, she withdrew before her second-round match in Paris, for the first time playing the mental health card., later used so effectively by Simone Biles at the Olympics. At the session in Mason, Paul Daugherty, a sports columnist for The Cincinnati Enquirer, asked ,“You are not crazy about dealing with us, especially in this format. Yet you have a lot of outside interests that are served by having a media platform. I guess my question is, How do you balance the two?” Osaka, after an attempt at an answer that wasn’t an answer, ran out of the room in tears. Her agent, Stuart Duguid, said via text message, “The bully at The Cincinnati Enquirer is the epitome of why player/media relations are so fraught right now. Everyone on that Zoom will agree that his tone was all wrong, and his sole purpose was to intimidate.”

Imagine that response from a male athlete to a legitimate if tough question. Imagine an agent for such a male athlete calling the questioner a “bully.” Female athletes cannot protest that they must be treated equally with male jocks and still reserve the right to revert to delicate flowers when it serves their purposes.

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Fake Legal Résumé Ethics

fake-resume-usaWhat the legal profession will regard as conduct that calls into question a lawyer’s honesty sufficiently to disbar him is a mysterious and unpredictable area. Remember, John Edwards never received as much as a rap on the wrists for his exorbitant lying to hide the fact that he had a mistress and a love child while he was running for President in 2008. Now the Michigan Attorney Discipline Board has been affirmed in its decision to disbar lawyer Ali Zaidi for having false credentials and representations on his professional resumé.

I would expect that to send chills down many a lawyer’s spine, since professional resumés of lawyers and non-lawyers alike are so frequently loaded with puffery that it is almost an “everybody does it” ethical breach. (This is my favorite, the long-time lie of Clinton crony Bill Richardson.) Fortunately for most of them, the Rules of Professional Conduct involving honesty are narrowly interpreted to exclude all but violations of law, breaking official pledges, defaulting on loans and lying under oath, unless they involve the actual practice of law. (Lying to a judge, to a client or in a brief is career suicide.) Does a resumé fudge qualify as the unethical practice of law? Not usually: Ziadi’s must have been something special.

It was. Continue reading

The Yahoo! Mess

Yahoo’s CEO, Scott Thompson, just “resigned” from his post after it was clear that he was going to be sacked. He had been on the job just four months. Why the sudden exit? A simple Google search by a Yahoo! board member revealed that Thompson had lied on his résumé, claiming to have a degree in computer science. This opened a can of worm, Pandora’s box, and an ethics cornucopia, all wrapped in one:

  • Thompson’s initial response was that the mistake was “inadvertent,” and that he regretted not having caught the error. This attempt t0 brass his way out of deception of his own making should probably ensure that he never leads another company. If he had taken 20 seconds to think about it, Thompson would have realized that using a second lie to try to cover the first would only make it clear that his curriculum vitae fabrication was not an aberration. Naturally, it was quickly discovered that he had the same fabrication on his résumé when he had applied for his previous job. Continue reading

The Incredible Self-Disproving Rationalization!

A Chicago scene website is highlighting businesses serving citizens of the Windy City that market lies.  It focuses on three of the breed. The first, The Alibi Network, was one of my Unethical Websites of the Month years ago. For a fee, it will concoct and document elaborate support for excuses, fake illnesses, adulterous getaways masquerading as business trips. It’s the kind of enterprise George Costanza might have started; if you have a strong stomach, you can read about it here.  The second is “Rent-a-Date,” which is less objectionable than it is sad, an escort service with no sex, for guys who can’t get a date and want to impress employers, old classmates and other shallow people by hiring one and pretending that the relationship is real. You know, George would have used this one, too.

The third of these slimy businesses, however, is truly awful, an outfit called “The Reference Store”
The business creates phony former employers, complete with websites and local phone numbers, for job seekers worldwide. (You know, George could have used this service to give credibility to his favorite fake reference, “Vandelay Industries”! It’s a George Costanza Tri-fecta!) Continue reading