The case of the purloined letter: Real resignation or post-affair retaliation? — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

The case of the purloined letter: Real resignation or post-affair retaliation?

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Here’s a big reason to ban supervisor/subordinate relationships: When those affairs end, trouble for employers often begins.

The subordinate, who may have been a willing participant, may now claim she was being sexually harassed. Or the supervisor may punish the subordinate for cutting off the relationship. Either way, there’s probably a lawsuit coming.

Recent case: Christine, a police officer in Mount Oliver, had an open romantic relationship with the chief of police. Then she broke it off and began seeing others. Suddenly she learned that Mount Oliver council had accepted her resignation—based on a resignation letter that she claims she never sent.

Apparently Christine had written several such letters, but then stashed them in her locker. How this one made its way to borough council without her knowledge was a puzzle.

Christine sued, alleging that the police chief had told her they had to be romantic partners or have no relationship at all. She theorized that he opened her locker and submitted the resignation letter to punish her for refusing to renew the affair and thus make good his threat of no relationship.

The borough argued that if this case amounted to anything, it was merely a case of jealousy and not sexual harassment.

The court disagreed and refused to dismiss Christine’s case. It said a jury should decide whether the chief punished Christine for ending their affair by manipulating her resignation. (Secilia v. Mount Oliver Borough, 2:13-cv-00223, WD PA, 2014)

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