Jane Roberti worked as a loan officer for Allentown’s Becker Subaru. Her live-in boyfriend, Mark Wynne, also worked there as a salesman. Roberti’s responsibilities included funneling Internet sales leads to the salespeople.
When employees began to complain that Roberti routed the best leads to Wynne,counseled both to keep their personal and professional lives separate.
In January of 2006, Roberti’s supervisor counseled her again, saying the sales force believed she was still favoring Wynne in distributing leads. The next morning, when the issue came up again, Roberti reportedly walked onto the showroom floor where customers were present and yelled, “All you salesmen are f___ing stupid!” She was terminated immediately. Becker Subaru terminated Wynne the following September.
Roberti sued for age discrimination and retaliation, claiming Wynne’s firing was done in retaliation against her. The court dismissed the retaliation charges, noting that an employee can’t claim injury based on an adverse action taken against someone else. The age discrimination claim will be decided separately.
Note: The course of true love rarely runs smoothly, and it runs even rougher at work.
Consider instituting a workplace relationship policy. Most policies prohibit romances between supervisors and subordinates, which would have included the relationship in this case since the loan officer had “dotted line” supervisory power over her boyfriend.