Consider this when writing policies: Employees can sue if their employer discriminates against them because of their “association” with a member of a protected class. And that association can include dating and other intimate relationships.
Have your attorney review your policy on interoffice romance to make sure you’re protected against charges of association discrimination.
Recent case: Katherine Dallas, Alisa Jones and Edward Thomas all worked for the Calhoun County School District. Dallas and Jones are white and Thomas is black. When the women were terminated, they claimed it was because of their close association and friendship—including sexual relationships—with Thomas.
They sued for association discrimination. Their case is pending, with each testifying about the details of their relationship. (Dallas, et al., v. Calhoun County School District, No. 5:10-CV-258, ND FL 2011)
- How to Fire an Employee the Legal Way: 6 Termination Guidelines
- Disability harassment costs Wall Street firm half million
- Disabled worker isn't entitled to work-at-home accommodation
- Nip harassment suits in the bud: Establish clear system for lodging complaints
- For trusted public employees, unsavory off-duty conduct can amount to a firing offense