Wal-Mart Overruled on Dating Ban

Discussion
Jun 17, 2005
George Anderson

By George Anderson


A labor court in Germany has ruled that Wal-Mart can not bar employees from having relationships with co-workers and that a proposed hot line for reporting violations of company code by other workers at the retailer was against the law.


The case resulted after labor representatives from Wal-Mart’s 91 stores in Germany filed suit. According to The Day newspaper of New London, Conn., “Under German law, employee-management councils must sign off on a wide range of workplace conditions, from hiring and firing to the position of desks in an office.”


Moderator’s Comment: From your experience, what impact
do inter-company romances have on the workplace environment and performance?
Should companies be legally allowed to bar employees from dating co-workers?


George Anderson – Moderator

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12 Comments on "Wal-Mart Overruled on Dating Ban"


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Warren Thayer
Guest
15 years 8 months ago

Way over the top, and impossible to control. You might as well herd cats. I became involved with the woman who became my wife while we were co-workers, and she later became my boss. We’ve both gone on to different companies, of course, but 25 years later, she’s still my boss. In our case, it worked, because we both kept it completely quiet and discreet. Otherwise, obviously, you’ve got a recipe for trouble. I can see transferring people out so they aren’t in the same sphere of influence in a company or whatever, but firing them is pretty outrageous.

Len Lewis
Guest
Len Lewis
15 years 8 months ago

I met my wife at the company we both worked for 30 years ago. There were never any issues with us or anyone else, even though the company did not encourage “fraternization.”

With all the problems they have in Germany, Wal-Mart goes out and creates a new one — go figure! David’s right. Mature behavior is essential from all parties involved. But you can’t ban relationships or people’s feelings. That’s just as bad for the work environment as relationships that may head south.

David Livingston
Guest
15 years 8 months ago

I don’t think it should be legally banned in the workplace. However, it’s not a very responsible or mature behavior and it almost never has a good result — especially married people having office affairs. Feelings always seem to get hurt and someone usually loses their job. One time a woman I worked with asked me out. I told her I did not fraternize with female employees outside of work. She responded “they do it on ER.” Now she is mad at me for turning her down and we now have a “hostile” environment. There is never a happy ending.

Al McClain
Guest
Al McClain
15 years 8 months ago

Love is a tough thing to regulate, and Wal-Mart is a huge company, so I don’t think a few intra-office or intra-store romances will hurt anything. And, they’ve got bigger problems and issues to worry about anyway. It’s best for them to pick their fights and let this one go.

Charlie Moro
Guest
Charlie Moro
15 years 8 months ago

I have to state at the beginning that I met my wife and we began to date while employed at the same company. I think that “policy” should be to separate romantic situations so that no reporting issues come into play…but to make it illegal seems a little over the top for me. There is so much interaction in a work environment, which in a lot of cases could be the main social hub for many people, especially for different age groups. Policies to help alleviate problems, yes… illegal and fire people…no.

Jim Leichenko
Guest
Jim Leichenko
15 years 8 months ago

We spend most of our lives at the office–where else are adults supposed to meet people? In any case, people leave jobs all the time for all kinds of reasons. What’s the difference if it’s because of a failed romance?

Rick Moss
Guest
15 years 8 months ago

I know of a case in which a couple, both working as civilians for the U.S. Army, began dating and eventually married. They worked at the same base, in separate departments, for years. Then, at one point, the wife was transferred into the same department as the husband so that he became her supervisor! You would think, of all organizations, the military would set limits. I was dumbfounded, frankly.

I’m in agreement, generally, with previous comments that you should let people do what they do and treat problem situations on an individual basis. But you would think that some common sense precautions should be written into company policy books to avoid obvious conflicts. Always, however, leave the final judgment to the manager and establish sensible guidelines on how to deal with problem situations, e.g. a transfer; not firing.

Debbie Hetherington
Guest
Debbie Hetherington
15 years 8 months ago

I personally don’t think it should be made illegal. As a rule, I never, ever date anybody I work with because all it does is bring problems. Seen too many things happen when relationships end, from harassment to people getting fired for sexual harassment charges that were not true. But, if two people want to date or get married, nobody can stop that from happening.

M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
15 years 8 months ago

In my experience, inter-company romantic couples arrive at work at about the same time and leave about the same time. They also go to lunch at about the same time. Now THAT’S efficiency.

MARK DECKARD
Guest
MARK DECKARD
15 years 8 months ago
The “No Fraternization Rule” has been in effect at Wal-Mart since Store #1 in Rogers, Arkansas, so if anyone thinks Wal-Mart just made this one up, think again. Fundamentally, it’s a good rule that has helped the company and its associates stay focused on the business of taking care of customers. Although some folks are very discrete in their personal affairs, many, probably most, don’t have the good sense to keep it that way. When romantic relationships emerge in the workplace, the dynamics between the couple can be disruptive but, even worse, the rumor mill and allegations of favoritism and special treatment can start a whirlwind that no one wants to get caught up in. That’s not to say that romances don’t happen. They do, but wisely, the rule is that one party of romantic pair should move to a different store or to a different department if working at the General Office. If a relationship is going to happen, it’s going to happen regardless of which store or department the parties may work. There… Read more »
Ben Ball
Guest
15 years 8 months ago

Yeah Doc. And when they are dating on the QT, they work really, really late until everyone else leaves! Now THAT ups productivity!

Franklin Benson
Guest
Franklin Benson
15 years 8 months ago

I’m really scratching my head about this one. I know several married couples in Bentonville that are Wal-Mart employees. It’s not a secret, and it has done nothing to damage the career of either person in any of the couples.

I’d be more surprised to hear about relationships between a Wal-Mart employee and someone from the supplier community. And I’d say it’s a pretty safe bet that, somewhere, it has happened.

Wal-Mart should just refine the policy so that it limits relations between a direct chain of command; no bosses sleeping with their direct reports, that kind of thing. Two people in completely different parts of the company? What’s the harm?

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