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Ballwin approves fraternization policy

The city of Ballwin has adopted a fraternization policy with a goal to “maintain clear boundaries between employee personal and business interactions.”

As noted in the policy statement, adopted by unanimous vote at the May 13 Board of Aldermen meeting, the new rule doesn’t prevent the development of friendships or romantic relationships between co-workers. But it does set boundaries on how relationships are conducted during working hours and in the workplace environment.

City employees in supervisory or managerial roles and those with authority over others are subject to stricter requirements under the policy due to their status as role models, their access to sensitive information and their ability to affect the employment of subordinates.

The policy lists 11 procedures and guidelines that include prohibiting inappropriate physical contact on city premises during working hours or not. While employee off-duty conduct generally is regarded as private, an exception is a romantic or sexual relationship between a supervisor and a subordinate, the policy states.

Under the new procedures, any supervisor, executive or other city official in a sensitive or influential position must disclose the existence of a romantic or sexual relationship with a co-worker either to an immediate supervisor or the human resources coordinator.

If it is determined a conflict of interest exists, the city will work with those involved to consider options to resolve the problem, including making sure the individuals no longer work together on matters where one is able to influence or take action on the other.

If one or both parties “refuse to accept a reasonable solution, such refusal may be cause for termination,” the policy says, adding that the new provisions apply regardless of the sexual orientation of those involved.

Aldermen approved the policy statement with little debate or discussion. Alderman Mike Finley [Ward 1], an attorney, observed the document was “well drafted.”

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