Can HR ask me not to go through a public street if a female employee feels that I am harassing her?

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Can HR ask me not to go through a public street if a female employee feels that I am harassing her?

A female co-worker told the HR that I am sending her text message with harassment content such as ask her out to lunch and I will install a camera across from her street to watch her; I was joking. But I did pass by her house saw a dog sign and asked what kind of dog that she has. Then the HR had a meeting with my boss, co-worker and I, the HR told me the company doesn’t want to lose both of us, told me not to go through this co-worker’s street again and made me to say that I’ll promise, even that is a public street. Is this legal for the HR preventing not to go through that street?

Asked on January 9, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

It is completely legal  for them to do this; and, if you do not have some contract protecting your job in some way, if you do not comply, they could terminate you. An employer may essentially set any terms or conditions on a job that it likes, so long as those terms are not inherently illegal (e.g. an employer cannot require an employee to commit tax fraud), and there is nothing illegal about asking a person to avoid another person's street. You are free to ignore their request if you are willing to be fired for doing so--they can't arrest you or sue you for going down her street, but they, as noted, would be within their rights to terminate you.

Note that the messages you sent this woman, whether you meant them as a joke or not, were inappropriate, given the very strong laws against workplace sexual harassment; many employers would have terminated you for them, instead of giving you another chance while asking you to avoid her street.


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