|Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
NASA Should Have Had A No Fraternization Rule - Wrong, Would Say the DC Circuit
you must NOT . . . fraternize on duty or off duty, date or become overly friendly with the client’s employees or with coemployees.While NASA officials probably wished they had something similar and that Captain Nowak and Commander Oefelein had obeyed it, if they had, the DC Circuit would have called them up short. To be fair to the DC Circuit, their objection was technical — and they would have allowed the rule with a little redrafting:
Even if Guardsmark has a legitimate interest in a twenty-four-hour ban, it had an obligation to demonstrate its inability to achieve that goal with a more narrowly tailored rule that would not interfere with protected activity. ....
Ever helpful, the court even suggested some alternatives:
As with all rules, it is unlikely even having had a perfectly legal one would have prevented the problem — it would only give a reason for taking action afterwards — which at least in the astronaut love triangle debacle is probably not necessary. The bottom line — as long as we have humans for employees, issues like this, but hopefully less publicized, lie in store for all employers.
If everything goes well, I will be talking about this dilemma for employers on a brief CNBC segment during the noon (CST) hour today.