Weekly legal dilemma: Lap dancing

I am the HR manager of a large accountancy firm. We have discovered that a member of the team is going to a lap-dancing club during his lunch time. He is never back late, but some of the women in the firm find this type of behaviour upsetting. Can we stop him?

The fact that an employee attends a lap-dancing club during his lunch break or at any other time outside of working hours will not generally give grounds upon which you could take disciplinary action.

It may be different if it could be shown that it had some negative impact on the business. If he attends the establishment wearing a uniform that clearly identified the firm where he works, there may be an issue as to whether he could be bringing the name of the business into disrepute. However, this would be unlikely with a member of an accountancy team.

It may be better to treat this as a disagreement between staff. As with any dispute between colleagues, you should take all reasonable steps to resolve the matter. It may be the case that once they have had the opportunity to address the matter with a third party, then the differences can be resolved. If this cannot be done informally, then you would need to implement the firm’s formal grievance procedure.

Ultimately, if the objections from the other employees continue to such an extent that they refuse to work with the employee, and he refuses to stop going to the lap-dancing club, you may have grounds to dismiss him due to the disruption the issue is causing in the workplace. However, you should remember that a decision to dismiss should only be taken as a last resort.

Michael Ball, partner, Halliwells

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