Jancee Dunn Polls the Experts 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