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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 99661
Experience:  JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law
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I live in NC an at will state. Company policy says no two employees

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I live in NC an at will state. Company policy says no two employees may co-habitate nor get married. Company has allowed and new of two employees living together for past ten years now. Even gave them a chance to become married, but they couldn't work in he same department. They each loved their jobs so they decided to just live together an they built a 240,000 home together. I got engaged to an employee in an other department because we figured if it had been allowed for this other couple hen surely we could also. We were told we can not live together nor get married and yet the other couple is still living together and has not been told anything like we have been.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Unfortunately, companies have these types of policies more and more frequently and they are not illegal to have. They can have rules stating married couples cannot both work for the company and they can have an anti fraternization policy, even though they may have allowed it for employees who were involved before they enacted this rule (as the constitution disfavors "ex post facto" laws or rules), but the fact they have grandfathered in some employees who were together since before the rule does not give employees who were not in a relationship prior to the rule the right to argue that the rule is illegal or unfair because there are others it is not being applied to.

Now, if the company is applying the rule unequally to couples who are getting together after the rule is passed, then you might have a claim against the company only if you prove their application of the rule is based only on age/race/sex/disability (unlawful discrimination) grounds.

These cases are very hard in an at will employment situation because the employers can have these types of rules and they cannot be challenged in court unless they are rules that discriminate on unlawful discrimination grounds. They are not telling you that you cannot get married, they are just telling you that if you choose to get married or live together both of you cannot remain employed there, so you are being given the right to choose (not a great choice, but choice just the same).

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Customer: replied 2 years ago.
This policy has been in place since 1987, since 2003 they have allowed these other two employees to live together, offered them a chance to get married, and the HR person even attended the house warming 2 years ago when they built a home together. My girlfriend and I were sort of basing our engagement on the company allowing this couple to violate this policy for the past ten years, why are we subject to different treatment??? Just because they don't want us to be married or live together... Makes no sense to me to ave an employee policy if its not same for everyone!! Please explain this a little better to me, I am confused!!
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
If they are allowing someone to violate the policy, you can raise that as an issue with the employer, but the problem comes down to the at will employment issue and unless they are enforcing the rule against you based only on your age/race/sex/disability (unlawful discrimination), they do not need a reason to fire you. The fact they are not enforcing the policy against everyone DOES MEAN for you that if you are fired and they try to deny you unemployment benefits for violating the rule, they would not be able to do so because they have failed to fire others in the same situation and as such they could not prove your conduct was misconduct serious enough for termination, thus it would be considered a termination without good cause.

The policy may not be right morally they way it is being handled, but legally it is an enforceable policy and their unequal enforcement means you could win a claim to collect unemployment benefits, but not likely that you would have any claim to file in court against the employer to recover your job or damages.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I have worked here for 27 years, I don't want to go to court, I just want air and equal treatment like the other couple is getting. Th policy was in place before they started living together 10 years ago, just seems to me that there is a double standard here to start with Some have been allowed to live together which violates the policy that was in place nice 1987, yet when we decide to do the same an b legal and get married all of a sudden it's we are going to follow the policy now in your case
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
I agree with you on this and I hate it when my employer clients have these rules and do these things because it puts them in a poor light ethically, but legally their position is safe because as at will employers the employees have no legal basis to sue them over how they enforce their policy as long (and I am not trying to be repetitive) as it is not enforced solely on age/race/sex/disability of the employees.

The only thing you can do here is send a letter to HR pointing out that the policy is not enforced and it was on that basis that you entered into this relationship and engagement and now they are seeking to enforce a policy that has not been enforced for over 10 years. You have the right to complain in writing to HR, but again as an at will employee that is all you can really do.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 99661
Experience: JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law
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