Inter office dating

The question is: Do employees have a right to privacy in emails sent from a private computer to a coworker?"Employers generally have unfettered rights to access employee email and computer and phone systems if the employer has adequately reduced employees' expectation of privacy in electronic communications," said Lynn D. "Employers reduce employees' expectations of privacy by having policies, handbook statements or other documentswritten or electronicwhich notify employees that all electronic communications are owned by the employer and that employees do not have privacy rights to those communications." Both you and your employees might be surprised to learn that employee's personal emails could be subject to disclosure in the event of litigation.

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In March, Wal-Mart countersued, armed with evidence that Roehm had a romantic relationship with Sean Womack, Roehm's subordinate, along with alleging that she and Womack were seeking jobs with an ad agency that was bidding on a contract with Wal-Mart.

The suit filed by Wal-Mart includes evidence of the alleged affair in the form of e-mails turned over to the employer by Womack's wife, Shelley Womack.

Last December, Wal-Mart marketing exec Julie Roehm was fired by Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

Roehm promptly filed suit, claiming that the company failed to give her severance and that the retailer didn't return some personal belongings.

People at work are paid to be friendly, and it’s a violation of the unspoken social contract to mistake niceness for sexual availability.

And for those of us who do prefer to work without having sex or romance enter the picture, there’s hope that clear policies around how coworkers should express interest in each other will have a ripple effect.

Even “innocent” or polite sexual attention can be unwelcome if it’s pervasive, or if all parties aren’t mature enough to handle hearing a “no.” Treating a female coworker as a romantic prospect can undermine her confidence or suggest that she's seen more as a sexual prospect than a valued peer.

It's also possible that there will be awkwardness, hard feelings, or even retaliation in the wake of a break up or a firm rejection.

Call it the “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” Dilemma, after the world’s most sexually troublesome Christmas song: Men are trained to believe that women are being coy, or are simply too shy or protective of their virtue to admit they want sex, and therefore disregard a woman’s initial refusals as a mere formality.

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