Little lies employers tell . . . and why they shouldn't


"If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything." Mark Twain

"No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar." Abraham Lincoln

"A half truth is a whole lie." Yiddish Proverb

"Those who think it is permissible to tell white lies soon grow color-blind." Austin O'Malley

Q."How do you know when a lawyer is lying?" A. "His lips are moving." Old lawyer joke. Har-de-har-har, Alice.

All of us have been guilty of fudging on the truth, if not out-and-out lying, from time to time. But the fact that we've done it doesn't make it right. There are many reasons that honesty is the best policy, and with a hat tip to my colleague Bill McMahon for suggesting this topic, I'd like to talk about why it is important in the employment context.

First, the obvious: Perjury is a crime, and so is obstruction of justice. If you lie under oath, or in connection with a government investigation, or destroy or falsify evidence, you have committed a crime, and you could go to jail. If that's not a deterrent to lying, then I don't know what is.

But because none of you are perjurers or obstructors (obstructers?), I'll focus on the "little" lies that we are more likely to tell, and how they can come back to bite us as employers.

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