Question: My boss recently laid off a lot of people. As a result, she's given me much more responsibility - but no raise and no better title. Is this fair? She says she won't promote me until she sees how I do.
Answer: Call it a wild guess, but we're betting your boss didn't lay those people off just to be mean. We agree that in a perfect world, an increase in responsibility should be accompanied by a bump in pay. But today's economy is anything but perfect. When organizations are forced to reduce their payrolls, many prefer to minimize layoffs rather than cut even more jobs to increase the compensation of workers who remain. In making that tradeoff, employers aren't behaving unethically, even if some employees (like you) may deserve a raise.
As for the promotion, though, we're on your side. Assuming the payroll's frozen, your boss should try to reward you in other ways. A better job title is a good place to start.
Questions? Email Money Magazine’s ethicists – authors of “Isn’t It Their Turn to Pick Up the Check?” (Free Press) – at FlemingandSchwarz@right-thing.net.