We know that February is all about hearts and flowers and romance and the little guy with the arrows. And that’s good. Right? Well maybe not. Just imagine this…
Valentine’s Day rolls around and Mary gives John, her co-worker of several months, a suggestive card with an invitation for cozy dinner for two at her place. John politely says, “Thanks, but no thanks.”
End of the romance saga? Not really. You see Mary is John’s supervisor and she doesn’t let it go. She continues her romantic pursuit of John, asking him to work on special projects that put them together after hours. Although Mary maintains her professional demeanor during the day when everyone is around, she often makes suggestive remarks to John once they’re alone. After a couple of weeks, John has finally had it. He confronts Mary in her office and they get into a heated argument that everyone in the department can hear. Immediately following this confrontation, Mary barrels into your office saying John was disrespectful, insubordinate, and she wants him fired. John follows her into your office and says, “Her behavior when we’re alone just creeps me out, but I need this job.”
Everyone knows that Mary has been after John for months and that John has no interest in her. But there’s no proof. It’s all water cooler talk. Now what? Fire John? Fire Mary? Fire them both? Sound familiar?
If this happens to you and Cupid’s arrow lands in the middle of your desk, here are some steps you can take.
- Take John’s allegation seriously and conduct a discreet investigation. As difficult as these situations are, they are still serious and need to be addressed quickly. And in cases where the “He said – She said” involves a supervisor, the company has liability.
- Make certain that Mary understands that your company’s Non-fraternization Policy prohibits dating between supervisors and their subordinates. Don’t have one? Consider implementing one.
- Review your Harassment Policy with both employees. Put Mary on notice that she’s to take the policy seriously, especially the prohibition on retaliation.
- Let John know that even though his allegation against Mary is serious, he didn’t handle the issue correctly. Make certain he knows what he should do if Mary’s behavior continues or if he has any other issues with Mary.
- Keep an eye on the situation.
So remember, if love blossoms and arrows fly at work, a good policy and consistent enforcement are your best weapons against the pesky little guy.