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Can we discipline an employee for his girlfriend’s actions?

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in HR Management,Human Resources

Q. We have an employee whose girlfriend has come in and wandered through the production floor without permission. We have escorted her out of the building twice in the last month. We also talked with the employee about his girlfriend.

What are our options if she comes in again? Should we call the police? Is there any way we can discipline the employee because his girlfriend keeps calling in several times a day wanting to talk with him? He is granted two 10-minute breaks and a half-hour lunch each day, but his girlfriend insists on talking with him outside of those available times. All our conversations with the employee have not stopped the calls or her showing up at work for no reason. — Carol, Washington

A. Yes, you can do any of the things you’ve listed. You can call the police if the girlfriend enters the premises again unescorted, and you can discipline the employee for answering his phone during work time (just as you would any other employee, of course).

You don’t say how the employee responded to your requests that he keep his girlfriend out of the workplace, and whether he feels she will listen to his requests. Unfortunately, the girlfriend’s controlling behavior probably extends far beyond what you’ve seen at your workplace. You may wish to refer the employee to an employee assistance program or other resource for individuals who have domestic relations issues.

If your office is in Seattle, the employee may also be entitled to paid time off under the city’s “sick and safe leave” law to take steps to address legal or medical concerns related to stalking (and other types of domestic dispute, such as violence or sexual assault).

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