Is HR allowed to ask me about having sex with an employee?

My HR manager asked if I had sex with an
employee that was going to work for me. They
received an anonymous complaint that I had sex
with them. He wouldn’t tell me who but asked if
I touched them, or had sex with them.

Asked on January 19, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, Utah

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

Since having engaging in sexual activity with a co-worker can potentially result in a claim of sexual harrassment or discrimination, an employer may ask about such activity. Bottom line, so long as there exists a legitimate business interst, asking about sex with a co-worker is a valid inquiry.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

Yes, they can. Having sex with an employee can lead to sexual harassment claims against the company, if, for example, the employee claims they were coerced or pressured into sex. Or it can lead to a sexual discrimination claim, such as if another employee claims you are treating this one more favorably due to a sexual encounter or relationship. Even if there is no harassment or discrimination claims, sex among coworkers or between supervisor and employee can lead to workplace tension, disruption, impact morale and productivity, etc. The company has legitimate business interests in knowing what, if anything, happened.


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