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Employers in the United Kingdom are being warned of the risks of workplace kissing ahead of National Kissing Day on June 24.
Employment law firm Doyle Clayton Solicitors Ltd. said in a statement that kissing in the workplace is a “legal and etiquette nightmare” that could lead to “costly discrimination and harassment rulings.”
“There are issues around whether someone is consenting to such contact, no matter how innocuous, and especially issues around whether subordinates are consenting or simply going along with it because they feel they have to,” said Darren Clayton, senior partner of Doyle Clayton, in the statement.
“This gives the potential for accusations that it is unwanted attention leading to claims of harassment,” he said.
“Conversely there is also the potential for people who don't get such friendly greetings to feel excluded and discriminated against,” Mr. Clayton added.
“Sadly, the conclusion is that cheek kissing is a minefield, particularly for owners and bosses,” he said.
“I would strongly advise them to scrupulously avoid kissing any employee on the cheek, no matter how pleased you are with them and how established your relationship. A tribunal awarded a doctor's receptionist £600 ($1,005) for injury to feelings in 2013 when one of the doctors kissed her after she told him she had run a half marathon the previous day,” noted Mr. Clayton.
“Employers are liable for their employees' acts carried out both at work and at work-related social events, and what might seem like an innocuous act to one person may not be viewed that way by another,” Mr. Clayton said.
And this isn't just an issue for uptight British bosses — International Kissing Day falls on July 6.
Good manners could be costly: Citigroup Inc. last week filed a lawsuit against AT&T Inc. in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York – all for saying “thanks.”