Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
I’m starting a new job next week. I don&'t want to. Four of the people I have
worked with split off to start their own firm from the company I have worked for
more than ten years. I have been grudgingly invited, because my skills are
essential for the contracts the about-to- be-former employer is letting then take. In
my last week the new bosses have asked me to download many things from the
server of this company (reports, client lists, marketing plans, even financial
information and contracts). These folks have treated me swell and it feels
unethical. They&'ve repeatedly told me they’d keep me if they had enough work, but they cannot complete the contracts without the traitors. One of the new bosses (who
until last month was a peer) is acting like it&'s a loyalty test to earn the new job.
How do I pass and still look myself in the mirror?

Dear Loyal:
It’s a good sign that it feels unethical, because it is. Your loyalty to
your old employer is commendable. Your concerns about your new
employer are legit. I’d bet a bottle of Manishevitz that all of you signed
acknowledgments of personal policies that had some variation of the
following: You can’t steal from us. That includes taking material that
would allow you to steal our clients, copy our reports, do an end run
around our strategic plan, etc etc etc. You’re being asked to do
something that, in addition to being plain old wrong, could land you in
a heap of trouble.

How to proceed? Brush up your resume and start looking for work. Yes
work for the defectors, but don’t assume they have anyone’s well-
being at heart except their own. With regard to the requests say you
were locked off the corporate server and were unable to get any of the
material they asked for. . The white lie to the new boss is paltry
compared to the breach of trust they’re asking you to commit. It has
the added advantage of being true. Because the padlock comes from
your conscience, which is your truest compass