Q: I've had the same cleaning lady for years. The problem is that she's getting older and not doing her job as well. I know she needs the money, so I'd feel guilty firing her, but the house is getting grungy.
A: "It's fair to dismiss her and find ways to cushion the blow. You could give her a substantial bonus, or try to find some other job she could do better. These efforts would be kind, generous, and fair, and no ethical principles require you to keep paying a cleaning woman who can no longer clean."
— Jack Marshall, president of ProEthics
"Helping domestic employees with insurance, taxes, and retirement is your responsibility. Work out a termination plan that gives her fair notice and a financial cushion, or you could open an IRA on her behalf and put some money in it."
— Anita L. Allen, professor of law and philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania Law School
"Yes, the house needs cleaning, but she's been faithful for years. Is there a middle ground, like asking a younger person to help with the vacuuming while she dusts, and splitting the fee between the two? That gives her a mentoring role while perhaps easing the way toward a transition."
— Rushworth M. Kidder, founder of the Institute for Global Ethics
From the July 2007 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
We Hear You!