Summary Judgment Granted: a consensual sexual relationship between supervisor and subordinate was in
The Plaintiff was a supervisor who engaged in sexual relationships with his subordinate. He admitted this behavior, the receipt of an employee handbook and acknowledged the sexual harassment policy in place. “The Employee Handbook provides that all such sexual relations are a violation of the defendant’s sexual harassment policy, which may result in disciplinary action up to and including discharge from employment.” The Plaintiff was fired. After the completion of discovery, Plaintiff admits he had at least one sexual involvement with another employee and admits that he, the Plaintiff, received the sexual harassment policy which prevented that sort of thing – finding no issue of material fact, the Court awarded Summary Judgment to Defendants.
Law: [It is settled law that an employer generally is entitled to direct how an employee shall perform his duties (Rudman v. Cowles Communications, Inc. 35 AD2d 213, 216, mod on other grounds, 30 NY2d 1). As long as the employer’s directions are not unreasonable, the employee is bound to obey them (Id.). An employer’s determination of good cause justifying termination of an employment contract is entitled to deference particularly when, as here, a highlevel management employee is involved (Trieger v. Montefiore Med. Ctr., 15 AD3d 175, 176). Good cause means some substantial shortcoming detrimental to the employer’s interests that the law and sound public opinion recognize as grounds for dismissal (Elsemore v. Lake Placid Group, LLC, US Dist. Ct, NDNY, Dec. 7, 2007, Sessions, CJ [2007 WL 4324254]). The ultimate criterion of good cause is whether the employer acted reasonably in discharging the employee because of misconduct (Id.). A discharge may be upheld as one for cause (1) if it is reasonable to discharge employees because of certain conduct and (2) if the employee had fair notice, express or implied, that such conduct would be grounds for discharge (Id.).]
The Court found that the defendant adopted a sexual harassment policy and prohibited such conduct because of the “intimidating work environment” and the coercive nature of such relationships. The conduct would reasonably be grounds for Plaintiff’s discharge and the Court found it was reasonable grounds for Plaintiff’s termination.
The case is Scholem v. Acadia Realty Ltd. Partnership, 43014-09, NYLJ 1202670156367, at * 1 (Sup.
SUF, Decided August 7, 2014).