Mishmeres HaSholom: Ask the Rav

Q: My employer received complaints about a problem that cropped up in our office and asked me to tell him which secretary was at fault. I had no choice but to disclose the information. Did I act correctly?

A: If it can be assumed that it is possible that the employer would be annoyed with the secretary who erred and unjustifiably fire her, etc., then it is forbidden to tell about a specific incident because the secretary could be trained not to repeat the offense.

If there is no such presumption, then it is contingent on various factors: If it can be assumed that the blamed secretary already learned to be careful after she erred, or that you can explain to her or guide her on how to avoid these mistakes in the future, then you should make efforts to avoid disclosing to the boss who was at fault, in every way possible.

Nevertheless, if it seems that the secretary did not take a lesson from her mistake, and explanations or your guidance will not help or be accepted at all, then it is permissible to disclose who was at fault, while giving her the benefit of the doubt that she didn’t notice, etc.

So it is in your case, where you can explain or offer guidance but your boss pressured you and did not let go, and you could not avoid answering. In this case, too, you are permitted to answer. This heter is based on the idea that there is actually purpose in the disclosure if the boss can warn the secretary and teach her not to err again, and there is no concern that she will be unjustifiably fired.

Though you could have likely accomplished this without telling the employer, you are still not obligated to get entangled with your boss because of it. Based on the above, if according to the situation you could have avoided answering, or evaded the question in some way and did not do so, but erroneously disclosed the information, then you must properly repent.

The questions and answers above were taken from the Mishmeres Hasholom pamphlet in Israel. For details and inquiries please e-mail us at office@hasholom.org or call 972-2 5379160.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Hamodia.