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Allen M., Esq.
Allen M., Esq., Employment Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 19168
Experience:  Employment/Labor Law Litigation
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I am married and was involved in a close and personal

Customer Question

I am married and was involved in a close and personal friendship/relationship with a coworker (Jane) for approximately 16mos on and off. Many texts exchanged between us over that time. As far as it got physically was kissing, five different times, however
very much a emotional type involvment. After a final "text fight" between us, I informed her I was telling my spouse (which I did), and I told my supervisor. One or two days later, Jane went to our HR Dept and filed a sexual harassment claim. After a lengthy
investigation, HR reps informed me that they do not see harassment or hostile work environment; however the kissing at work was unprofessional. Which is what I agreed with. Jane told HR that we never kissed but that I tried, which is false, but no proof exists.
HR has now come back with a Formal Warning of Sexual Harassment counseling for me, which I suspect is to passify Jane. I only have proof of excessive texting over 16mos, but no text "content". Jane has select content, a few texts, that I sent her which display
some flirting on my part. My concern is that HR has chosen to ignore the big picture of a relationship and focus on a few select texts to make the case. I have asked HR to reduce the Formal Warning to a Documented Discussion and tag it under "unprofessional
conduct". That is currently being considered, however, if it sits as is (Sexual harassment), what are my options? Should HR take into consideration ALL history between us? Or do they have the right to dismiss the 16mos relationship history? Matt (Texas)
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Allen M., Esq. replied 1 year ago.

HR is not constrained here by any actual burden of proof or external measures of the process that they use. They are an employer, not a court or government agency.

Technically speaking, they could just terminate your employment and block your unemployment for misconduct and that would be perfectly legal, regardless of the exist of the long term relationship.

So, while I certainly appreciate your concerns here, there is no legal means that you have of correcting this. If the employer wishes to issue you a warning for unprofessional conduct, they may do so.