Court approval for liaisons in the workplace

Staff at Wal-Mart in Germany will be able to continue frolicking with colleagues after the retail giant lost a court appeal over its attempt to ban office romances.

An appeals tribunal upheld an earlier verdict that the company’s ‘ethics rules’ – which proposed that ‘lustful glances and ambiguous jokes’ and ‘sexually meaningful communication of any type’ were forbidden – were in breach of German law.

The code also advised employees that: “You should not go out with or have a relationship with someone who could influence your employment situation or whose employment situation you could influence.”

The tribunal ruled that policies governing personal relationships in the workplace, though common in the US, are incompatible with German labour laws, and that agreement with the regional labour council would be necessary to implement them.

Lawyers said the ‘no romance’ clauses were also highly unlikely to stand up in the UK and may well be in breach of human rights law.

Wal-Mart defended its ethics rules, and said it was only trying to protect staff from sexual harassment.

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