The 24/7 boss

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. 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

  • I’m glad the right decision was made.

    It would have been a horrible precedent if the boss’ argument had swayed the judge.

  • B

    Perhaps I’m not grasping Lileks’ objection, but I don’t think the court was enforcing 24/7 obedience to one’s boss. The decision is aimed to have the opposite effect: reining in supervisors’ “extracurricular” behavior towards their subordinates, because of the ever-present power dynamic. This is simply acknowledging the reality of the situation and getting closer to the intended goal of our antidiscrimination laws.

  • Bob Collins

    I was sorry to see the Strib published Lilek’s post in the paper this morning. It’s obviously an incorrect interpretation of the court decision and leads to the assumption that it means a boss can “boss you around” outside of the office and that’s not what it said.

    To me, it brings up the question of the role of comedy in the news. funny? Absolutely. but it shouldn’t intentionally misinform just because it’s funny. It’s not a fair trade.

    What makes, say, Daily Show so good is that it is fundamentally based on accuracy of the underlying topic.