Holiday Ethics

By Bill Prachar, william.prachar@verizon.net

Ho, Ho, Ho. The holiday season is upon us. And you know what that brings — yep, The Grinch — in the
form of the guy who writes the Core Values columns. You all know the old holiday saying “’Tis better to give
than to receive.” Well, at work all this cheer must be tempered with a fair amount of caution.

Grinch rule #1. It is better to neither give nor receive. Gift giving during the holidays is a cultural tradition
that for most is second nature. We give and accept gifts from friends and family without expecting anything in
return (except love, friendship and maybe a little food). Unfortunately, the same may not be true in the business
world. A gift to (or from) a “friend” who is also a customer or supplier — even if it’s not be intended to have any
“strings” attached — could appear unethical to competitors, regulators and even co-workers.

For office employees, the safest course is a holiday card — not a gift — to those with whom we have business
relationships. This helps maintain and build a relationship without the risk of sending a wrong message. On the
other hand, if you receive a gift of more than nominal value, you should return it with thanks, explaining WM’s policy,
which by the way is this: for gift cards, accept nothing more than $25; for a product or service, accept nothing worth
more than $100 in value. If returning a gift is not possible, such as with a fruit or pastry arrangement, it should be
shared with your team, but also let the giver know tactfully they should refrain next year.

One holiday gift exception are reasonable “tips” to drivers from grateful customers. However, tips must be unsolicited,
not in return for extra services, and must also be allowed through district policy or through the service contract. Check
with your manager if you’re unsure.

Grinch rule #2. Eat all you want, but drink and be merry with great caution. In the

context of work, we must be careful with alcohol and the resulting merriment. In those few instances where alcohol is
allowed at work, such as a company holiday party, remember the dangers of drinking and driving since we don’t want
to endanger ourselves or the public. In addition, some people behave abnormally when they’ve had a bit to drink. And
since we also want to avoid any “merriment” that could be considered harassment or violent, drinking responsibly by
limiting alcohol intake is the best method of prevention.

Grinch rule #3. I wish you all a wonderful holiday season and a Happy New Year!