Can we terminate manager who violates nonfraternization policy?

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in Firing,Human Resources

Q Our company policy prohibits managers from dating subordinates. I have just learned that a manager has violated this rule. May we terminate her employment?

A California law does not specifically prohibit employers from restricting the dating practices of their employees. However, employers must ensure that such a policy is based on a legitimate business justification that outweighs the employees’ right to privacy. Moreover, employers must inform employees of the policy, make sure they understand it and tell them the consequences of violating the rule.

Employers should note that Section 96 of the California Labor Code allows employees to file a claim with the Labor Commissioner for “loss of wages as a result of demotion, suspension, or discharge from employment for lawful conduct occurring during non-working hours away from the employer’s premises.” Employers should review their policies with counsel to minimize the potential exposure to claims before the Labor Commissioner or, worse, a lawsuit alleging wrongful termination in violation of public policy.

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