Sex and Guns: Challenges for Employers

by Michael Haberman on April 21, 2008 · 0 comments


Making the news here in the SE US, Georgia in particular, has been the story of an office romance that has caused the employer difficult times. Office romances have always been problematic for employers. This one, involving the head of The Department of Transportation and the Chairman of the Board that oversees the DOT, has ended poorly, with the DOT being the big loser. The Chairman resigned last week because of the relationship and the Head of the DOT has a hearing today on whether she should retain her position. So two talented people may be off the job and the DOT will be scrambling. They violated agency policy which prohibits that type of personal relationship.

Office romances cause employers headaches. The company may try to prohibit them but they can prevent them. After all people who work together all day long may have a tendency to form those relationships. Some are single, some are not. Some of these relationships are successful, many are not. The employer ends up with the burden of monitoring these relationships because of the liabiltiy that failed relationships may bring in the area of sexual harassment. You even have to monitor people around the couple in question because they may find their behavior to create a hostile environment. This is particularly the case when the pair involved are in a “superior-subordinate” relationship as in the DOT case. So what needs to be done? Ban them? Fire people involved? Require one to quit? (Have to be careful here about sexual discrimination.) Give me some feedback. Take the poll to the left.

So much for the sex part of today’s post. Now to the guns post. Florida just passed and signed into law a gun rights law that allows employees to carry guns in their cars. Employers cannot prohibit it. Georgia has passed a similar law, though it has not yet been signed into law. Employers are encouraging the Governor to veto this law. The Georgia law does have some allowance for prohibiting guns on company property as long as the employer owns the parking lot. To see a good post on the Florida law read Kris Dunn’s post at HR Capitalist entitled Dealing With Employees Who Are “Strapped” – Guns in Cars…

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

HR Wench April 21, 2008 at 5:12 pm

For relationships, I say:
1. Have really, really, really good sexual harrassment avoidance training. One session for line employees and another for sups/managers. There are different issues for each group and they need to feel comfortable asking questions and giving examples of struggles.
2. Prohibit direct supervisor/direct subordinate romantic relationships but be reasonable about it (i.e. one party must transfer or do something so that their partner isn’t a direct sup or sub). The relationship is none of the employer’s business unless it is sup to sub OR their behavior at work is inappropriate/breaks policy.
3. Get over it and move on! 🙂

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