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Marsha411JD, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 20392
Experience:  Licensed Attorney with 29 yrs. exp in Employment Law
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I work for a global vehicle manufacturer at an assembly facility

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I work for a global vehicle manufacturer at an assembly facility here in the US. I am a female salary employee and have married one of the hourly employees a little over a year ago. When my boss, a plant executive learned of the relationship he told me to keep my relationship transparent among a few other words. We do have lunch together and ride to work together but we do not have public displays of affection or fight or anything. I am a very high performer and always meet my target goals. However he has continued to make comments to me such as "he should not come to your office after work to wait for you. It doesn't look good. Tell him to wait for you outside if you ride together." He has also said I could no longer park in a certain area of parking reserved for 8th level employees after I had been parking there for over a year and perform at a 8th level role but classified as a 7th level. After my last performance review he praised my work and then "off the record" told me it is not perceived well that I had been seen by others walking out if the plant with my husband at the end of the day. My husband had began waiting for me by the exit after being told not to come to my office...he also stated that my dedication would be questioned if I were to ever apply for a promotion! When I asked if it were also observed when I am here for 12 plus hours a day or on weekends when I'm not being compensated. He said no. He said its not what time you leave, I know you have put your time in. It's who you are leaving with. He has said things of this nature to me know on at least 5 occasions. Of course there are men in the salary group here who's behavior with some some of the hourly women is what I will call undesirable. I have even witnessed a staff member having a female employee sit on his lap in front of everyone yet no one says anything. Not to mention the blatant affairs by many salary men with hourly women and it goes unspoken about. I am very distraught about these talks he keeps having with me when I feel I have done nothing wrong. All other hourly are allowed in office areas, I witness salary people walking out with the hourly everyday...Is this harassment?

Thank you for the information and your question. Can you tell me does the employer have any written rules concerning nepotism or dating coworkers? Are there any other male exempt employees married to hourly female employees and if so, have their been any issues for them with your boss? Just to confirm, your evaluation was not lowered because of your marriage to your hourly rate husband, correct?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
There are no written rules surrounding dating or marrying co workers. There are examples of married salary couples but no salary men married to hourly women that I am aware of at this plant. Or at least in this Department. And that is correct, my reviews reflect excellent performance. My boss even stated the relationship has not affected my performance.
Hello again and thank you for the additional information. Although it is unlawful to discriminate on the basis of gender, there would have to be strong evidence of disparate treatment because of your gender. Also, since there has been no adverse employment action because of your gender, you would have to have enough evidence to support a "hostile work environment" harassment claim. In order for that to be established, the behavior must be "severe and pervasive" and based on your gender. The EEOC and the courts have pretty high thresholds for what amounts to "severe and pervasive" and I have to say that what you have described would not likely meet their threshold, even if they found that these comments were only made to you because of your gender.

That said, you have an absolute right to file a complaint with your HR Department, and under the law you actually have to file a complaint with them, if you ultimately want to take this further to the EEOC and courts. In other words, unless an employee can prove that their reporting the issue would have been fruitless, they must give the employer the opportunity to investigate and resolve the issue. Because this is a case where there has been no adverse employment action (and hopefully won't be) and the behavior is not likely considered to be severe, you are best served by filing a formal report and letting HR handle this. Your employer cannot take any adverse action against you for filing the report. If they did, then at that time you would definitely have a cause of action. In addition, your boss may not even be aware of their paternalistic manner and actions and if HR talks to them, they might get it and just stop. If they don't stop, then, at that time, you can file a complaint with the EEOC and see what they determine in your case.

Please let me know if you need any clarification. I would be glad to assist you further if I can.
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