Dating coworkers lawsuit

Pinney says she tried to end the relationship in its first year and wants unspecified damages for the lost wages and emotional distress she claims to have suffered as a result of Peter Nordstrom's unwanted workplace advances.

The company calls her story "revisionist history." A trial has been set for January, but Nordstrom hopes the case will be thrown out after the judge hears the company's motion to have the case dismissed next month.

In companies where there is no formal fraternization policy but an employee is fired for fraternization, the fired employee could respond with a wrongful termination lawsuit.

A former employee can sue for wrongful termination in the event that he is fired without cause, unless his employment contract states that he is an "at will" employee.

Breaking fraternization policy rules that are strictly enforced can result in being fired for breach of contract.

When new employees are hired they may be given an employment contract to sign.

In July 2001, almost a year after she quit, Pinney filed her lawsuit, which contends that she told Peter Nordstrom in October 1993 that she wanted to end their relationship and was met with continuing harassment. In court filings, Pinney's Seattle lawyer Abraham Arditi acknowledges that his client sometimes went back to Peter Nordstrom willingly. Pinney's claim arises." He explains: "Each time she tried to extricate herself from the relationship, [Peter] Nordstrom would importune her with calls, flowers, and visits in the workplace, until he managed to draw her back into the relationship." Pinney is not the only former girlfriend the company is now defending Peter Nordstrom against.

The company says Pinney's own actions refute her claims: She was sexually intimate with him as recently as March 2001, and she moved in with him twice, once in 1998 and once in 2000. But he says at other times she did not: "The times when she tried to avoid Mr. Michele Overson, whom Peter Nordstrom also dated while she was a Nordstrom employee, recently filed a sexual-harassment suit against him and Nordstrom, Inc. According to court filings, Peter Nordstrom has dated at least 13 Nordstrom employees since he started working for the company as a teenager--behavior that once led a company official to caution Peter Nordstrom about the risks of dating co-workers.

But in pre-trial court filings, a basic outline of the relationship emerges: The two began dating in 1993 when both worked at a Nordstrom store in Orange County, California. Whether she quit voluntarily or under pressure from Peter Nordstrom is disputed, but Pinney never filed a complaint of sexual harassment with Nordstrom while she worked for the company.Check your employee handbook to see what your company's policy is if you are concerned about fraternization.Some companies have policies that employees who fraternize, even if it does not disrupt their work, can be fired without any further discussion. It is normal for friendships to develop in the workplace.Workflow disruptions and charges of favoritism often arise with employee fraternization.You may get fired if the fraternization interferes with your work or goes against company policy.

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