What is an emergency lie

"A lie can also be necessary"

Experts estimate that people lie up to 200 times a day. Even at work, people lie to bosses, colleagues and customers. In economics and politics, an untruth can sometimes be the better alternative.

Everyone lies. Experts say up to 200 times a day. A number that is of course difficult to prove, possibly even a lie. We don't lie all the time, but in between we often resort to white lies, including at work. Whether in an interview, in conversation with the customer, the supervisor or the work colleagues, the truth is not always told, for many it is just a trivial offense.
"Lying means consciously telling the untruth in order to gain an advantage.

So a lie is (almost) never a trivial offense? ", Innsbruck lawyer Gerd Pichler informs. But: In a decision from 1998, the Supreme Court made it clear that" white lies "that an employee uses to inflict minor breaches of duty The labor law expert explains that, for example, the question of pregnancy asked during a job interview may be answered untruthfully in the negative.

So far so good. But what does it mean from a business ethical point of view to lie in a work context?
The business ethicist Wilhelm Guggenberger says that there is a very wide range of intentions, especially when it comes to lies. What do you want? What is the intention behind it? "What is of course to be ethically condemned in any case is, if you lie in order to maximize your own advantage or profit," explains Guggenberger and adds, "and when it is clear that others will be harmed by this."

For the business ethicist, simulating a sick leave to the employer is already "a form of ethically dismissible lie". Although mostly perceived as a minor offense, it is a form of fraud because it is used to claim benefits, both from the employer and from the health system, without you being entitled to them. Even if customers are lied to or cheated with false statements, this is morally reprehensible. "The line to lie is very close in business, especially in advertising," says Guggenberger.

Lawyer Gerd Pichler knows whether the employer can force an employee to lie for the company and, if he refuses, even threaten labor law measures such as dismissal: "In some cases it will be permissible to give the employee instructions to a customer to say the untruth if this appears necessary in the interests of the company, for example to prevent damage to its image. "
Means that the employer may ask the employee to lie, provided that the white lie does not conflict with the interests of the employee.
That would be the case if the employee were to make themselves liable to prosecution by following an instruction - for example in the sense of contributing to fraud, explains Pichler further. In this case, the employee does not have to lie and consequently does not have to reckon with any consequences under labor law.

However, if the lie is justified and refused by the employee, the supervisor can fire that employee. "When assessing whether an instruction is to be followed or not, the courts have to weigh the interests of the employer and the employee against each other. This question will therefore always have to be assessed on a case-by-case basis," explains Pichler in detail.
Lies or falsehoods are not always reprehensible, in order to remain euphemistic.
Wilhelm Guggenberger states that an untruth can sometimes be necessary in economics or politics. "It might sound a bit exaggerated, but I am also thinking of the current situation or decisions in the financial sector when leaders are asked in advance whether this or that will be the case, and if they were telling the truth, that could sometimes be the case cause great damage, "the university professor is convinced. In the stock exchange business or when setting interest rates, it may even be necessary in extreme cases to lie in order to keep away damage or to avoid panic. In the entire economic sector, the expert in business ethics hopes that "people and companies alike will not take advantage of this current exceptional situation to make a profit with false facts or deeds". That would be a classic field where a lie could harm others and that would be a great danger, Guggenberger concretized. So in life - as in employment - the principle applies: "Honesty lasts the longest."

Source: Tiroler Tageszeitung, April 4, 2020 by Nina Zacke