What do you think of this Company Policy (where a friend of mine works) prohibiting harassment?
“All employees in a supervisory capacity, especially managers, must take every precaution to avoid any statements or conduct that may be construed as harassment, including sexual harassment. Innocent comments or behavior may be misconstrued, especially by subordinates.” (A little patronizing here, maybe.)
“For this reason the Company strongly discourages supervisors, especially managers, from socializing with subordinates outside the workplace.” (Walking a thin line there, but it’s okay to “discourage” something.)
“Any employee, including any manager, who violates the Company’s policy against harassment will be subject to disciplinary action, which may include termination of employment.”
Okay so far, right? Good and reasonable in today’s climate of zero tolerance for some types of behavior.
But how about the next sentence:
“While the Company cannot prohibit supervisors from socializing with subordinates outside the workplace, such behavior can be cause for disciplinary action, including termination of employment.”
I love that sentence. The first half states that the Company knows it cannot prohibit certain behavior (and that’s true—as a matter of law; it can’t). But the second half says it will nevertheless try.
My friend asked me if he should sign at the bottom acknowledging receipt of the policy and understanding of it. I told him that in my opinion he should go ahead and sign it. After all he DID receive it, and he DOES understand it. That doesn’t mean he agrees with it or will necessarily comply with the letter of it.
I also advised him that he might want to polish up his resume and begin testing the job waters near where he lives. His employer is a small business (sole proprietor), and it sounds to me as if the boss is a control freak. This may not be the last aspect of none-of-his-business employee behavior he tries to control.