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The morning after the night before

By Claire Mansell - 3 Feb 2015

The talk around the water cooler has focused on the couple filmed having sex in a Christchurch city centre office. As an employment lawyer, I've been asked whether the couple can "get fired" for their actions.  Well, it depends.

Does the company have policies around relationships between employees? Many company policies prohibit intimate relationships between supervisors and subordinates, while others place blanket bans on intimate relationships. The company may also look at whether or not there are rules surrounding accessing the office after hours.

Even if the couple aren't breaching any company polices, their actions may nevertheless constitute serious misconduct.

The employer may maintain that the employees have brought the company's reputation into disrepute. In Hallwright v Forsyth Barr Ltd (the case about a senior investment analyst who hit a pedestrian in a fit of road rage) the employee was held responsible for the intense negative media coverage that resulted.

The media reports that the couple enjoyed a wine afterwards. If this was company wine taken without permission then, and quite apart from what preceded, the couple could face disciplinary action regarding such use of company property!


Claire Mansell


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