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View Full Version : NPR Moral Issue as a Proprietor / Employer



05-16-2002, 10:49 PM
OK, here's one for you all that's non pool related, but something I (as a proprietor) would greatly appreciate some honest feedback on before I act. We have a non-alcoholic, non-smoking family poolroom / gameroom & grill here in which families feel very comfortable coming to, kids feel very secure here and parents feel comfortable leaving their kids here unattended to play - which is OK with me as long as they behave. I pride myself on that reputation that we've developed over the years in that regard.

All of our cooks are young males age 19 - 25. They are all avid pool players and take full advantage of their pool privileges here when they are not working. All of the waitstaff / counter help is mostly young females - age range 17-25. Some of the cooks and waitstaff date each other, having started dating after meeting here. I had previously futilly tried to maintain a policy that two employees working here could not date each other, but gave up on that as I felt it wasn't fair across the board. I've since chose to handle it on a case by case basis if it became a problem. As a rule I feel like I'm respected by and fairly close to my employees, although their personal lives and problems are their own business as long as it doesn't affect their work performance.

To get to the point, a newly hired 22 year-old male cook employee (who has been a regular pool customer here for 3 years) has a reputation for "hitting" on younger females. Perhaps if this really bothered me, I shouldn't have hired him to begin with. He's been after me for a job for awhile, and otherwise does seem very responsible and trustworthy. Well, sure enough within a week of starting work here he has just hit on a 16 year-old female customer who I've known from coming in here with her Dad since age 10 - and they have scheduled to go out on a date for this first time this weekend. As she really enjoys pool and comes in here by herself often to pracice, I had actually been talking with her recently about possibly working here some this summer.

My dilemma as a proprietor/employer (as this situation really doesn't sit well with me) is whether it would be out of line for me to have a talk with the male employee about this age difference situation and that I'm not happy with it? Is this my personal hangup and none of my business unless for some reason it becomes a problem here at work, or do I have a right as a proprietor to ensure that all employees representing this facility will be held to a higher standard and act in a morally responsible way? In this case the innappropriateness (in my opinion) of a 22 year-old sexually active male hitting on and dating a 16 year-old female customer is very clearly not the kind of image I want our employees to portray - or for other customers to even know about for that matter.

The options are for me to say nothing and see what develops (I'm afraid it will likely become a pattern he'll continue with other young females), have a talk with him now explaining that I don't like it for the reasons explained above but not really give him a clear ultimatum (and trust that he makes the right decision), or to outright tell him if he desires to keep his job and pool privileges here the decision is very clear and that this behavior - preying on younger females will simply not be tolerated? Of course I realize that regardless of what I say, they can always choose to try to keep this relationship a secret to me outside of here.

I understand this topic may not be appropriate on this board, but I think highly of the opinions of many of you here and just wanted to poll you as to whether my feelings on this situation are warranted or out of line? Remember that we are located in a small southern religious rural community. Any honest feedback will be appreciated - thanks. - Chris in NC

05-16-2002, 10:54 PM
stay the hell away.

16 n 22? happens all the time. what is the law in your state? the poor 22 probably needs help but it's not your deal.

dan..,once you start...

cheesemouse
05-16-2002, 11:07 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote:</font><hr>My dilemma as a proprietor/employer (as this situation really doesn't sit well with me) is whether it would be out of line for me to have a talk with the male employee about this age difference situation and that I'm not happy with it? Is this my personal hangup and none of my business unless for some reason it becomes a problem here at work, or do I have a right as a proprietor to ensure that all employees representing this facility will be held to a higher standard and act in a morally responsible way?<hr></blockquote>

Chris, I think you have to comfortable in your own business. If the guy dates the young girl he is out of work. Having dealt with the stress of the food and beverage business for many years in a past life I know you don't need the worries pal.

stickman
05-16-2002, 11:23 PM
I understand your concern, but as an employer, his personal life is none of your concern, unless it affects his work performance. If he is using the job as a means to pray upon your female patrons, then you may have cause to say something to him. I would let the girl's Dad handle it if it's a concern to him.

If you just can't tolerate it, you can always dismiss him without cause, provided the employment laws are the same as here in Kansas. In Kansas, no reason for termination has to be given. I certainly wouldn't tell him that it was because of his dating habits.

Rod
05-17-2002, 01:55 AM
Cheese I tend to agree with your comment. Having owned the same type of business as Chris I needed to be focused on business and not what I think my employees are up to. If I have to think about that, I'd either work with what I have or eliminate the problem, the employee.

rackmup
05-17-2002, 05:33 AM
I'm going to jump in here with both feet before even reading the other CCB'ers responses. A 22 year old man (sexually active or not) doesn't need to be anywhere near a 16 year old girl.

Does the father of this girl know what is going on? If not, I would drop a dime on "Mr. Hormones" in a New York minute!

If I were in your shoes, I would sit this 22 year old down, explain the image of your business and how hard you have worked to maintain it and it's importance to the success of your business. Explain that, although you have no way of enforcing his conduct, dating practices, etc., you will not allow this to happen UNLESS the father of the young lady tells you it is okay with him. If it's okay with the dad for his little girl to go out with an ADULT, then HE is the one that needs a firm talking to!

Tell the 22 year old that you are having reservations about his conduct, his motives for wanting the job in the first place and that you don't want to regret hiring him so, please, "clean up your act, look for dates somewhere other than the local high school and LAY OFF THE DAUGHTERS OF LONG-TIME PATRONS!"

Before the rest of you flame me on this...a 16 and 22 year old, sexually active (yes, that chance exists), is robbing the young lady of her youth, should she become pregnant, and placing the other in a position of legal compromise (sexual misconduct with a minor.) I'm sorry...I just feel strongly about this and my opinion is probably clouded by the fact I am the father of three girls.

Regards,

Ken (Men should date Women, Teen Boys should date Teen Girls, small children should be able to play in their front yard without fear of being abducted by some sicko and Catholic Priests should wear cast-iron boxer shorts, electronically monitored and secured with a padlock that cannot be opened)

Wally_in_Cincy
05-17-2002, 06:14 AM
I agree with Ken on this one. 22 and 16 is totally inappropriate. This kid is nothing but a leche. You need to talk to the girl's dad immediately and let him know what's going on so he can deal with it as he sees fit.

Doctor_D
05-17-2002, 06:21 AM
Good morning Chris:

This is a sensitive issue, no arguments there. However, due to the nature of the empoyer and employee relationship and the vicarious liability you are subject to for the acts and/or omissions of your employees, there are also very serious LEGAL exposures here.

The information I would need to share with you is too complex to discuss here. Please call me, you have my number - it can also be found on my WebSite, anytime during the day today and I will share with you my experience and knowledge from a Human Resource and Labor Relations perspective.

Dr. D.

jjinfla
05-17-2002, 06:22 AM
Hi Chris, My compliments on a well managed pool room. You might remind him that sex with a 16y/o can put him on the late news - followed by 10-20 in jail - If 16 is considered a minor in your state. There have been a lot of men and women arested for child mollestation here this year. And a lot of them being arrested committed the crime several years ago. It is up 52% according to today's headlines. But 16 has always been a borderline situation which has been overlooked in most instances. And consent by the minor is no defense. I guess there is not much you can do about it as far as the girl goes. But if you think it can harm your business then let him go and be done with it. You don't need the aggravation/worry. Jake

05-17-2002, 06:44 AM
I appreciate all responses so far, as I need to make a decision on this very soon. As far as going to the Dad to discuss my concerns (whom I've known as a customer here for many years), I have mixed feelings on whether it's appropriate to do this behind the back of the other two. It seems the more responsible action (if it bothers me) is to go straight to the male employee. I don't think it's likely the Dad is aware of what's going on between these two at least yet, but after doing a little checking around it's apparently not the first time this young woman has gone out with a considerably older male, so if the Dad is at all involved in the life of his daughter he probably is aware of her dating history.

The fourth option in addition to the ones I initially stated, (recommended by some here) and which at this time I'm considering as the best one is to simply realize my mistake in judgement in hiring this employee and terminate him immediately. Keep in mind he just started training here within the past week or so and would be a part-time fill-in employee - and had been told that his hours will/would be minimal.

My gut feeling as far as how he chooses to conduct his personal life outside of here, it is none of my business and I'm not likely to change the sexual dating habits of this troubled young man. However, I certainly don't have to tolerate it or him working in my establishment if it bothers me (which it obviously does), and if I think his actions are detrimental to the image of our business. Thanks again, and further comments are welcomed. - Chris in NC

05-17-2002, 06:52 AM
Chris- definitely call Dr. D, or a business attorney in your area. As A former business owner and employer, I can assure you you are flirting with some potentially disastrous liability issues here, particularly as it appears a case could be made that the situation arose out of this guy's employment at your establishment. For the most part I believe employers should stay out of their employees porivate lives, but when the workplace becomes involved in any way, you have to be careful to protect yourself, your business, your employees and your customers. We live in a society where a new lawsuit is filed every 30 seconds or so, and even if it is frivolous, it can damage everyone involved. Just my 2 cents worth! Patti I

05-17-2002, 06:58 AM
I haven't read all the replies but I'll add my opinion. I don't think that in your format(not the typical PH with everyone being street wise) that you should have dropped the restriction between employees AND customers. I get boos and hisses from co-workers with relationships going at work when I say this, but believe me the friction and fireworks that can happen when one of the people switch partners can be deadly. I don't think the "Dad" is going to whip out the shotgun but it's possible(yea call me alarming.) I have seen out and out fights, and some parking lot arguements gone bad between ex-lovers ain't that uncommon.

I'd reinstate the no dating between employes and I'd add customers. I wouldn't f*ck around with the situation. That's my 2c and I'm stickin' to it...sid

Eric.
05-17-2002, 07:40 AM
Chris,

I think it's a tough situation either way you look at it.

From a business standpoint, I would make a policy that no emloyees can "hit on" each other or patrons, simular to a Corporate Policy on sexual harassment. Now I understand you're not IBM, but you sure as hell can get involved in a lawsuit from a disgruntled employee.

As far as "hitting on" patrons, it's bad businees. I would tell your people that what ever happens outside of work is their business, but you don't want it in the establishment and you will be fired.

As far as the 22 &amp; 16 yr old, I'm not even gonna go there.

Eric &gt;16 will get you 5-10

Troy
05-17-2002, 08:57 AM
With a 22 year old and a 16 year old, I think you're looking at Statutory Rape and I also think, as an employer, you have yourself in the middle of that situation.

Troy

MikeM
05-17-2002, 09:05 AM
Chris,

I agree with where you're headed on this and I like rackmup Ken's approach. Start with the boy and explain how this affects your business and, if he seems to be listening, how immoral you think this is. I don't know about NC but here in Virginia any sex between these two would be statutory rape. Under 18 and over 5 years difference in age is rape!

I would leave it up to him to call it off, but make it clear that if he doesn't you're gonna tell her dad and fire his ass.

My judgement on this may be a little clouded too since I have a daughter and two 16 yr. old nieces that I am very close to. I have had to warn off a couple of older boys from these two and don't look forward to going through this with my daughter (she's 8).

You're a good man to care about this and don't take any of the advice to stay out of it. Someone has to make a stand and protect our teenagers.

MM

heater451
05-17-2002, 09:54 AM
I have read all the other posts (to date/time), and I believe the basic, common **feeling** is that the 22-year old should not be dating the 16-year old.

Now, since we live in a society with laws, which in many states considers 17-and under females as "no-mans land" (pardon the crudeness of that, but I couldn't resist the pun), you are right to be worried--beyond just 'feeling' that it's wrong.

You may wish to check with a lawyer first, but I believe that, since you seem to know the girl and her father well, you should voice your concerns to them, in respective order. Secondly, you should then explain YOUR situation to the man-child (if he were a "man", he wouldn't be pursuing a 16-yr old). You may also want to warn him of police involvement--not as a threat, but as a 'no-choice' action. Don't expect him "to make the right decision"--if he were that bright, you wouldn't be in this situation.


ASIDE:

I think that you should allow dating between employees, assuming the ages work out, but make it clear that, if the relationship affects job performance, it is grounds for termination, no argument. (DEFINITELY, check w/ a lawyer on policies like this.)

Now, dating between employees and patrons is trickier. I don't believe that an employee should be allowed to 'hit' on patrons ON THE EMPLYOMENT GROUNDS, DURING WORK HOURS. Should a customer pursue and employee, then something like a simple phone number exchange should be allowed, but employees should also be informed that dating patrons is discouraged, and they should be required to inform the customer of that as well.--If it's not clear, the difference should be that employees are prohibited from pursuing customers, but that they may accept advances (preferably, discreetly).

Ken
05-17-2002, 09:57 AM
14-27.7A. Statutory rape or sexual offense of person who is 13, 14, or 15 years old.

Class B1 felony: a sexual act with another person who is 13, 14, or 15 years old and the defendant is at least six years older than the person, except when the defendant is lawfully married to the person.

Class C felony: a sexual act with another person who is 13, 14, or 15 years old and the defendant is more than four but less than six years older than the person, except when the defendant is lawfully married to the person.


Age of consent in NC is 16 years for certain age differences, 13 years in other situations (younger perpetrators). That's a load off my mind.

Seriously Chris, There may be no legal problems with this matter but it is a real bad sign to see this guy hiting on a younger customer during what amounts to his training period. This time is not only for his learning the job but also for you learning about him. You now know that he will hit on someone who appears to be much younger than himself and during the time when he is supposed to be working. I know the layout of your place and there's no reason for him having much to do with the customers if he is doing his job. No ashtrays to empty or drinks to serve, for instance.

If he gets involved with a 15 year old you are in trouble especially now that you have made your concerns public. Nobody needs this aggravation and I would get rid of him.
KenCT

05-17-2002, 10:10 AM
You have an unusual situation here, for a pool room, in that you have female customers below the age of consent. The potential for bad publicity and even legal liability is very real, and I believe you are suddenly in need of a policy about this, rather than handling it on a case by case basis. A written and posted policy.

In my opinion, the only safe thing to do here is to forbid any dating between your employees and any customers below the age of consent - at the very least. Explain that, as a proprietor, this is necessary for your protection. Be sure your people understand that they will be terminated upon their first violation of this policy.

If, as you say, parents are comfortable in allowing their youngsters to frequent your place, you can't afford to have some girl's father appear at your door in a rage because one of your employees has taken advantage of his daughter. All sorts of things could result, and none of them are good.

I believe that this is a case of really needing to become involved in something that may appear to be none of your business. It is your business, and should be dealt with sooner rather than later.

Ralph S.
05-17-2002, 11:17 AM
Chris, what an interesting situation although not unusual one. From my past experiences and observations, most places of business have no-fraternization policies in place. If I were you, I would first speak with legal counsel to see if you can be held responsible from a legal standpoint. Also, your establishment is more family oriented than most, so you would have to think about the type of feed-back you would get from customers should the situation leak out or turn volatile in any way. Last but not least, my personal opinion is that 16 is way too young for 22.
Ralph S.

WaltVA
05-17-2002, 01:46 PM
Chris - I think your concern speaks highly of you and your establishment, and that you're very right to be concerned.

I would NOT talk to the girl's father. First, he may view it as an insult to her or her upbringing. Second and more importantly, it puts you on record as knowingly having an employee with predatory tendencies toward young girls. In the event of unfortunate consequences of this "romance" (pregnancy,suicide attempt, etc.) you might find yourself in court characterized as the man who put an alligator in his swimming pool and then invited the neighbor kids in. Unfair, but this is a litigious society we live in.

Talking to the employee again puts you on record as having concerns, but leaves it up to him to do something about it.

Since he is probably still in a probationary status, I would simply tell him "this just isn't working out" and let him go WITHOUT making any mention of your reasons.

Hopefully, you have gotten some good info from Dr. D. by now; I'd definitely run this by my legal counsel as well.

Best wishes - Walt in VA

Tom_In_Cincy
05-17-2002, 01:52 PM
Chris,
I would suggest that you have a conversation with your lawyer. If you know about one of your employees sexually harassing someone, and do nothing, you are are just as liable as the employee.
Documentation on any discipline regarding this employee might just save your assets. Protect yourself and your family.

05-17-2002, 02:59 PM
Keep it simple. If you start going to lawyers, HR specialists, management types, etc., you'll get a raft of differing opinions. You are obviously uncomfortable with the actions of the employee. If you distrust him with regard to his actions/motives, you will distrust him with regard to other matters pertaining to your business. It's your business. You're uncomfortable with this employee. Get comfortable. Get rid of him.

Rip
05-17-2002, 04:31 PM
I agree 100% with Ken. Chris in NC...is there really any doubt about this or are you just yanking our chain again? Rip~~hopes his chain was yanked

<blockquote><font class="small">Quote: rackmup:</font><hr> I'm going to jump in here with both feet before even reading the other CCB'ers responses. A 22 year old man (sexually active or not) doesn't need to be anywhere near a 16 year old girl.

Does the father of this girl know what is going on? If not, I would drop a dime on "Mr. Hormones" in a New York minute!

If I were in your shoes, I would sit this 22 year old down, explain the image of your business and how hard you have worked to maintain it and it's importance to the success of your business. Explain that, although you have no way of enforcing his conduct, dating practices, etc., you will not allow this to happen UNLESS the father of the young lady tells you it is okay with him. If it's okay with the dad for his little girl to go out with an ADULT, then HE is the one that needs a firm talking to!

Tell the 22 year old that you are having reservations about his conduct, his motives for wanting the job in the first place and that you don't want to regret hiring him so, please, "clean up your act, look for dates somewhere other than the local high school and LAY OFF THE DAUGHTERS OF LONG-TIME PATRONS!"

Before the rest of you flame me on this...a 16 and 22 year old, sexually active (yes, that chance exists), is robbing the young lady of her youth, should she become pregnant, and placing the other in a position of legal compromise (sexual misconduct with a minor.) I'm sorry...I just feel strongly about this and my opinion is probably clouded by the fact I am the father of three girls.

Regards,

Ken (Men should date Women, Teen Boys should date Teen Girls, small children should be able to play in their front yard without fear of being abducted by some sicko and Catholic Priests should wear cast-iron boxer shorts, electronically monitored and secured with a padlock that cannot be opened) <hr></blockquote>

05-17-2002, 05:54 PM
The situation has been resolved / terminated as far as any involvement I may now have. The young man is no longer my problem. Thanks for all those that responded here, that helped to make this inevitable decision easier for me. - Chris in NC

05-19-2002, 08:24 PM
Chris,

Sleep well knowing you did the only thing you could do.

Your scenario reminds me of something I observed back in 1994. The company I worked for had a summer engineering intern (male) who was very charming, funny and a good looking kid. Well, turns out he was the ultimate f**k and forget 'em type. Over the course of 3 months he managed to "nail" and break the hearts of 3 naive young ladies in our office. The sorry bast*rd went back to college in the fall and left these women who had previously been friends in the wake of pain and mutual distrust. He destroyed precious friendships for the sake of his own physical pleasures. How digusting is that?

I know women think all men are pigs (and they certainly have much anecdotal evidence to back that up) but actually most men (97%) would never treat women with the disrespect desribed herein.

Be happy that you are free of this problem and good luck in all your future endeavors.

Wally inda Natty