Is it legal for an employer to ask you what your relationship is with another employee?

Human Resources made me answer questions about what my relationship was with a fellow co-worker. They made me write a statement and explain what our relationship was. How is this legal?

Asked on September 3, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Georgia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The better question, unfortunately, might be how is it not legal? Employers have considerable discretion to set terms and conditions of employment. Those tems and conditions can include, for example, anti-fraternization policies (e.g. no dating or other romantic/intimite relationships) and anti-nepotism (no blood or marital relationships). Even in the absence of a formal policy, an employer, in the absence of an employment contract to the contrary, has a right to inquire into anything which it thinks could affect work performance or efficiency, which includes the relationships among employees, and to take action if it deems necessary. There are actually very few privacy rights at work, unfortunately, and employers can ask what questions or set what conditions they want--employees who don't want to answer those questions or abide by those conditions have the option of seeking other employment.

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