Put limits on supervisors’ ‘power-differentiated’ relationships

A new court ruling gives you more reason to consider a "no-dating" rule among your employees or a "no-dating subordinates" rule for your supervisors. At the very least, require supervisors to notify you if they become involved in relationships with subordinates. Then, make sure they have no say in the employees' promotions or evaluations. That may require moving the employee to work under a different supervisor.

Reason: A new California court ruling clarifies that employees can sue if they're treated worse because they aren't reaping the advantages of the boss's special attention.

The EEOC says that when "favoritism based upon the granting of sexual favors is widespread in a workplace, both male and female colleagues who do not welcome this conduct" are working in a hostile environment. If employers allow such sexual favoritism to occur, they send the message that they view women as "sexual playthings" who get ahead only by sleeping their way to the top.

Recent case: When Edna Miller went to work for the California Department of Corrections, she quickly heard that her supervisor, Lewis Kuykendall, had a soft spot for the females he supervised. Over the years, Kuykendall allegedly had affairs with a number of Miller's co-workers, each of whom received regular promotions and desirable assignments, while Miller did not.

Miller sued for sexual harassment and the state Supreme Court ruled in her favor, saying that "Certain conduct creates a work atmosphere so demeaning to women that it constitutes an actionable hostile work environment." (Miller v. Department of Corrections, No. S114097, Cal. Supreme Court, 2005)

BP Handbook D
The victim of sexual harassment does not have to be the person harassed. It could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct."