Dear Blue Collar,
It’s come to our attention that a member of our executive team was romantically involved with one of his direct reports. The extra-marital relationship carried on in secret until he evidently broke it off, after which his spurned lover filed a claim with WCB. The claim cites a “toxic workplace” as the cause of her mental injury; specifically, a “male-dominated, chauvinistic culture and management’s insensitive behavior.” Where do we go from here?
Answer: Your employer should find a good lawyer with experience in this area. To our knowledge, seldom do the Courts view superior-subordinate relationships as truly consensual, hence your legal exposure (to say nothing of the potential damage to your company’s brand following an embarrassing scandal) is considerable.
In Blue Collar’s non-legal opinion, a WCB claim may be the best possible outcome in this scenario. In most cases, once a WCB claim is accepted, an employee’s ‘right to sue’ becomes statute-barred. In other words, the worker’s recourse to civil remedies—should the WCB claim be accepted—would be greatly diminished. Although you’re facing an expensive disability claim, the Workers’ Comp Act may in fact provide invaluable protection.