Employers can’t get restraining orders on clients’ behalf

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in Career Management,Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources,Workplace Communication

When employees quit, they often want to remain friends with their former colleagues and clients. Usually that’s fine, but sometimes it’s not in co-workers’ or clients’ best interests.

That doesn’t mean, however, that the former employer can get a restraining order against the employee who quit.

Recent case: Pamela Dowell worked for a foster home for teenage girls for about seven months until she quit. Dowell contacted one of the girls via a social networking web site to explain that she wanted to stay in touch.

The foster home sued, getting a restraining order under Minnesota’s harassment law. Dowell appealed and the Minnesota Court of Appeals reversed the decision. The court concluded that the law was very specific—the alleged harassed individual or her guardians had to ask for the restraining order. (Steps to Success v. Dowell, No. A09-587, Minnesota Court of Appeals, 2009)

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