If I have been put on administrative leave for “violating a co-worker’s personal space”, am I risking being fired?

UPDATED: Apr 11, 2012

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

Get Legal Help Today

Compare Quotes From Top Companies and Save

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

If I have been put on administrative leave for “violating a co-worker’s personal space”, am I risking being fired?

I just complimented her for her perfume and asked if I could smell it. She said OK and never told or showed me she was offended. This all happened in front of other people. Next thing I know she obviously reported me and HR puts me on leave. Is there something I can do?

Asked on April 11, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Massachusetts


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Do you have an employment contract (including a union or collective bargaining agreement)? If you do, and it addresses discipline or termiantion, its terms are enforceable, and you may only be disciplined or terminated in accordance with it.

However, without a contract, you are an employee at will. An employee at will may be disciplined, demoted, suspended or put on leave, or terminated, at any time, for any reason--including "violating a co-workers personal space." Legally, there is nothing you could do if the employer chooses to terminate you over this; practically, one would assume that a show of contrition and being 100%  professional at work would be likely, though not guaranteed, to help.

For the record: what you did could easily be regarded as sexual harassment. One should *never* ask to smell a co-worker.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption