Thursday, 20 November 2008

Complex office relationships

An acquaintance passed an internal journal to me pointing out this piece of legal advice from a submitted question [true story]. Makes you think!

Q. My manager has just told me I am to lose my job. I think this may be because I have been having an affair with one of my colleagues (although this has now ended). Please can you explain my rights?

A. If your employer sacks you because of the affair and you have worked for them at least a year, you may be able to raise a compliant of unfair dismissal with an employment tribunal.

If your affair was with a member of the opposite sex and only one of you is being asked to leave, you may also have grounds for a sex discrimination claim. This can be brought regardless of how long you have worked for your employer.

You may also make a claim if your affair was with a member of the same sex and there is evidence your dismissal was related to your sexual orientation.

If the relationship ended badly make sure bad feelings do not spill over into your working relationship, otherwise you could find yourself accused of sexual harassment or discrimination. This is a particular risk if you are in a position of seniority over your colleague. Either way, your employer will have to follow a proper disciplinary procedure, giving you a right to appeal, before they can dismiss you.

[Pippa Wagstaff is currently on a blogging break]

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