Ensure romance rules protect against association bias

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Firing,Human Resources

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)

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