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Woman has affair, quits and then loses sex discrimination case

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in Admins,Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources,Office Management

The course of true love, at least in the workplace, runs straight to the courtroom. But Floor Covering Associates of Joliet received a reprieve recently when the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a district court verdict in its favor.

A woman promoted to office manager began an extramarital affair with a co-manager of the store. He was also a salesman. The affair ended when the woman’s husband discovered it.

The office manager took time off to handle the crisis, then returned and told her supervisor—a different co-manager
—that she did not want to work with her former lover. She also said she was afraid her husband might pose a threat to the man. Transfers were discussed, but the office manager agreed it was in the store’s best interest that she leave. Her supervisor took that as a resignation.

The woman sued for sex discrimination, claiming she had been fired while her former lover went undisciplined. She won a $250,000 verdict in a jury trial, which was later reversed.

The appeals court upheld the reversal, finding that whether she had resigned or not, the company let her go because of the threat her husband posed. The court also said the company had a legitimate business reason to retain the woman’s former lover, as he was a top salesman and thus “was more important to the organization.” 

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