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  #1  
Unread 05-07-2010, 11:51 AM
cathyb12 cathyb12 is offline
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Default Employee "Dating" Client

A sticky situation has come to light. Very hot love affair between one of our high-level (very talented), married employees and a high-level employee (also married) of a major client. Aside from the awkward moments this is now creating, we are afraid that "pillow talk" could lead to dissemination of proprietary information. Has anyone successfully dealt with this kind of situation?? Could we draft and enforce a policy prohibiting employees from dating clients and vendors?
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Unread 05-07-2010, 12:28 PM
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Still Need Coffee Still Need Coffee is offline
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Not a fun situation!!!

We address this sort of situation on the front end of employment. We have both a confidentiality & a conflict of interest policy which all employees much sign off on upon hire. For conflicts of interest, they have to disclose them up front, or if a conflict arises after signing the agreement, they agree to disclose it or risk termination.

Since you're in the middle of the situation right now, that advice probably won't help you. Do you have any sort of ethics/conflict of interest/confidentiality language in your handbook or new hire paperwork? If so, that would be the first place I'd look to for assistance.

How'd you find out about the affair? Was it voluntarily disclosed? If so, I'd address the situation head-on with the individual, and remind them of their duty to the company's reputation and any fiduciary duty they may have. Then, I'd consult with your labor attorney to see whether a confidentiality/non-disclosure agreement is appropriate for the situation.

Good luck - what a sticky situation!
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Unread 05-07-2010, 12:37 PM
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NaeNae55 NaeNae55 is offline
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First, what kind of policies do you have regarding confidentiality, exposing your company to bad publicity, and relationships within the organization? You need to go to them first and see if there are any steps you should be taking to put your company in the best possible place for tomorrow. You may want to modify them, and can, especially if your policies are subject to change and that ability to modify is well known among your employees (as they should be). However, I don't beleive you can really regulate employees from forming relationships you don't like. They just tend to go underground and that makes them harder to successfully handle. Whatever you decide, just make sure you don't do anything that looks like your employee is being singled out.

I think that at this point your best recourse may be to make sure you have a current signed confidentiality statement. A careful conversation with your employee outlining his/her duties and responsibilities to your organization is probably warranted. Again, you will have to be careful so you don't make things worse. If it were me, I would probably go along the lines of, "I know you know this but I have to make sure we are all on the same page so no one gets hurt and there are no surprises. Just doing my CYA thing." I have personally found that downplaying and not making the employee feel accused helps garner their cooperation and committment.

Good luck!

Nae
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Unread 05-07-2010, 01:09 PM
cathyb12 cathyb12 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Still Need Coffee View Post
Not a fun situation!!!

We address this sort of situation on the front end of employment. We have both a confidentiality & a conflict of interest policy which all employees much sign off on upon hire. For conflicts of interest, they have to disclose them up front, or if a conflict arises after signing the agreement, they agree to disclose it or risk termination.

Since you're in the middle of the situation right now, that advice probably won't help you. Do you have any sort of ethics/conflict of interest/confidentiality language in your handbook or new hire paperwork? If so, that would be the first place I'd look to for assistance.

How'd you find out about the affair? Was it voluntarily disclosed? If so, I'd address the situation head-on with the individual, and remind them of their duty to the company's reputation and any fiduciary duty they may have. Then, I'd consult with your labor attorney to see whether a confidentiality/non-disclosure agreement is appropriate for the situation.

Good luck - what a sticky situation!
We do have each employee sign a confidentiality agreement which states that employees are ..."expected to conduct themselves in the best interests of the company". Maybe the document just needs a little tweaking. By the way, the affair was not voluntarliy disclosed. The couple were seen in an airplane by another employee...pure happenstance. Only then did the employee come clean.
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Unread 05-07-2010, 01:11 PM
cathyb12 cathyb12 is offline
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We will definitely have that convresation, and remind the employee of their agreement to conduct themselves in the best interest of the company...in the end though, the heart wants what the heart wants.
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Unread 05-07-2010, 02:04 PM
Dasher Dasher is offline
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Okay I have reread the question very carefully. Not really sure you have a workplace issue yet (emphasis on yet). Someone spotted two people in an airport and it is a "very hot love affair". You mention that it is a "high level" employee and client. Well what if it was a poorly performing employee and a non-paying client? What kind of "awkward moments" if the affair is not widely known or talked about.

I would be very careful about this one. Seems a lot of judgement about proprietary information sharing and prohibition on dating clients. Are you sure you are not jumping in too soon?

I am so glad I don't have to deal with this one. Good luck.
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