Cocktails Revisited

August 10, 2007 - by: Julie Elgar 0 COMMENTS

Litigation Value: $75,000 (I’m sticking with my earlier assessment)

A number of people have asked me whether Jan could really be fired for dating Michael. My answer? Probably. Well, at least in most states. Employers can, and often do, implement policies prohibiting their employees from engaging in romantic relationships with co-workers and, certainly, with subordinates. And Courts typically uphold those policies. Or at least they used to. In February, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia struck down a company’s policy prohibiting any fraternization, dating or becoming “overly friendly” with co-workers on the theory that the policy could be interpreted by employees as prohibiting employees from discussing the terms and conditions of their employment, which violates the National Labor Relations Act.

A policy prohibiting any employees from being “overly friendly” with one another — can you imagine what would happen if Dunder Mifflin enforced such a policy? My guess is that Stanley would be the only employee left in Scranton.

Cocktails

February 23, 2007 - by: Julie Elgar 4 COMMENTS

LITIGATION VALUE: $75,000

Nothing says “I love you” quite like a detailed legal contract acknowledging that you were neither coerced nor were promises made to entice you into entering into a relationship with your boss, and if the woman of your dreams becomes a nightmare, that you won’t sue your employer. Yes, love contracts actually do exist. I should know, I’ve written several of them.

Are they effective, you ask? They can be, but not for the reasons you might think, and Dunder Mifflin’s attempt at “protection” is probably not going to prevent Michael (or Jan for that matter) from suing them after the inevitable explosion and disintegration of their relationship. Courts generally don’t take much stock in agreements that waive your right to sue for wrongs that haven’t even happened yet. The love contract would, however, have some limited value as evidence that the relationship was voluntary, consensual, was not considered by either party to be “harassment.” Unless, of course, Michael says that he was coerced into signing it when Jan ambushed him in the driveway of the CFO’s house. And it probably does not bode well that they signed the documents at a company function where cocktails were served.

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Categories: Office Romance

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