Appropriate clarification or horrible precedent? You decide.
The Minnesota Court of Appeals has ruled today that your boss doesn’t get a “get out of jail” card just because his (or hers, but it’s usually his) transgressions happen outside of work.
The case involves the boss of a restaurant cook. After hours, the boss bought the kid a few drinks and then the two engaged in some acts (you can read the particulars in the decision) that the cook says he wouldn’t have engaged in if it weren’t for the fact that the guy was his boss.
The boss claimed that since they were both “off duty,” it was a case of “anything goes.” But the court said that the boss still has the power to intimidate employees and coerce them into behavior that they would otherwise be unwilling to engage in.
Buzz.mn writer James Lileks calls it the most frightening piece of news out today:
I understand that this applies to sexual harassment, but it’s a horrible precedent. You meet your boss in the grocery store, and he says “meet me in refrigerated dairy in ten minutes with some ideas for supper,” and you have no choice but to obey.
But, in fact, you do have a choice. You have the same choice as a non-employee to be able to tell the boss to get lost. The court didn’t rule that you have to comply with what your boss says outside of work because he’s still the boss. It ruled, basically, that the guidelines for violating his authority are the same outside of work as they are within the hallowed halls of the workplace.
The boss, in this case, was convicted of third-degree criminal sexual conduct