Dear Amy:

I am the office manager of a very small office of five employees.

A new employee does not own a car and takes the bus to work. The bus picks her up in front of her home and drops her about a half-block away from the office.

For some reason, she does not want to take the bus home, even though it is still daylight when she leaves and it would still be light when she arrives home.

She has been continually asking other employees for a ride. The other employees do not live in her neighborhood, and it is out of their way.

They have been accommodating her but have been complaining to me that it is getting old. She seems unappreciative and does not offer gas money.

As the manager, is it my place to confront this employee?

I don't feel it is because it is not related to the job.

What do you think?

Unsure Manager

You are right. It is not your place to confront this employee.

However, because your office is so small and the employee is new, and because your other employees are bellyaching about it, you'll probably need to do something.

Therefore, the next time your other employees whine about this, tell them that they are big boys and girls, that they shouldn't feel pressured into giving this person a ride and that they should feel free to say no if they no longer want to grant this favor.

Dear Amy:

I am a student at a junior college. Because of the small class sizes, it is quite common at my campus for students and professors to know each other; some professors even fraternize with current or former students on and off campus. I was involved in one of these "friendships," along with several other students, with a certain professor. At the time, I thought the relationship was acceptable from an ethical standpoint, as there was no preferential treatment given or breach of college policy.

I began to reconsider, though, when this professor left her husband of 10 years to pursue an affair with a student of hers. Additionally, she has begun to purchase and provide alcohol to several students who are minors, who then get drunk and pass out at her apartment. Since she began this course of action, I've broken off all contact with her, save for warning her that I believe her behavior is wrong and leading down a path of professional destruction. She has ignored me and continued with both the relationship and partying with students.

Is this behavior professionally unethical? If so, what steps should I take, if any? I've considered approaching the dean of her department, mainly to obtain a statement from the college on this sort of behavior.

What do you suggest?

Ethics Course

Go to the dean. I don't think that you need to dwell on the broken marriage (academic communities are notoriously gossipy and the dean has probably heard about it), but providing alcohol to minors is not only professionally unethical, it is illegal as well. This behavior exposes the school and the professor to legal action -- not to mention that it is just plain wrong.

Obviously, this professor's behavior normally wouldn't be your business, but if it is interfering with your educational experience, then it is within your rights to attempt to do something about it.

Dear Amy:

Here's another testimonial to getting engaged after just meeting someone.

Three days after my husband and I met, he popped the question and I accepted!

We've been married for 26 years.

Happily Married

I love these stories. But in response, I have five words for you: Renee Zellweger and Kenny Chesney.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

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