Harassment or love affair? Depends if it was welcome

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Workplace affairs almost always get messy, especially when they involve a supervisor and a subordinate. But that doesn’t mean that the subordinate is destined to win the case every time. If she can’t show that the affair was unwelcome, she won’t win.

Recent case: Patti Lemmon worked as an accountant and restaurant manager for Richard Ayers, the married owner of an accounting office and Subway franchise. She almost immediately succumbed to Ayers’ charms and had an affair. Later, when she broke it off, she sued for sexual harassment and a long list of other claims.

But Lemmon couldn’t show that the affair was unwelcome, coerced or accompanied by threats related to her job. The court tossed out her lawsuit. (Lemmon v. Ayers, No. 3:09-CV-361, SD OH, 2012)

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