Picture this: A group of senior citizens gather in a room, mingle over drinks and snacks, and then find their seats at one of the many small tables, one man and one woman at each.
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(Or at least it’s illegal if your company is big enough to be covered by federal discrimination statutes — meaning that it has 15 or more employees.) As for the question of whether they need reasonable suspicion, employers don’t generally need “proof” before taking disciplinary action against employees in matter, but because the issue of romantic relations is a sticky one, I turned to employment attorney Bryan Cavanaugh to weigh in.
He says: “As for reasonable suspicion, the law does not impose any sort of standard that the employer must meet before taking action.
If an employee was let go under this policy without solid evidence and that employee came back and alleged the real reason for the discharge was gender, race, age, etc., then the employer would have a weak defense since its ‘legitimate business reason’ for the termination was so flimsy.” So there are the facts on legality. From the employer’s side, there are all kinds of reasons not to want couples in your organization — but banning dating upon penalty of firing is a very old-fashioned policy and out of touch with how most modern workplaces operate.
Throw in the fact that they have a pattern of firing the women in these couples but not the men, and there’s something pretty disturbing there.