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Office Romance Thought to Be Cause of Boss' Ire

July 22, 2001

Q. I have been in a supervisory position for more than three years, with good performance reviews. However, I am seeing a married man in my organization, and I believe our relationship has been discovered by my supervisor, with a detrimental effect on my continued employment.

Right after I returned from a weeklong getaway with this man (who is part of our mid-level management team), I was called into my supervisor's office and told that I am now on six-week probation. I was told that if my work did not improve, I would be fired.

I spoke with the human resources manager (without telling her of my affair), saying that there seemed to be some kind of personal vendetta on the part of my supervisor and that my sudden probationary status had nothing to do with my job performance.

She scoffed at this idea, saying she didn't think my supervisor was that kind of a person.

What is my recourse?

--T.B., Van Nuys

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A. You need to talk with the human resources manager and request that she meet with you and your supervisor. In that meeting, you should challenge your supervisor to substantiate why your performance was considered poor and why that led to the extreme step of being put on probation.

If your supervisor cannot provide this information, you should request that the probation be rescinded.

If the supervisor brings up the affair but does not detail how it has affected your work performance and if the company does have a policy or contract regarding dating among employees, you need to point out that the situation is unrelated to your work performance and insist that the probation status be removed.

If this does not happen, you should consider seeking legal counsel.

--Ron Riggio

Director

Kravis Leadership Institute

Claremont McKenna College

Employer Need Not Offer Health Coverage

Q. I work for a restaurant that employs more than 20 full-time workers. Is my employer required by law to supply medical insurance to employees?

--R.A., Venice

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A. There is no state or federal law requiring an employer to provide medical insurance for its employees. Some employers make it available and others do not.

Among those who make it available to employees, some pay the full cost of the premium and others require employees to pay some or all of the premium.

If it is important that your employer make health insurance available to you, you should ask about it before accepting the position.

--Deborah C. Saxe

Management attorney

Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe

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If you have a question about an on-the-job situation, please mail it to Shop Talk, Los Angeles Times, P.O. Box 2008, Costa Mesa, CA 92626; dictate it to (714) 966-7873, or e-mail it to shoptalk@latimes.com. Include your initials and hometown. The Shop Talk column is designed to answer questions of general interest. It should not be construed as legal advice. Recent Shop Talk columns are available at http://www.latimes.com/shoptalk.

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