Can a store manager tell two employees they can't date?

Disregarding a 7 year age difference, I've been slightly confused on one pressing issue, is it okay for me to date one of my managers? According to my store manager, who has never brought up this issue to me, just the manager involved in this situation, is saying that we can't date for several reasons. Its either because of the age, or he has his own personal problems to deal with- whatever it is. However just recently our store manager stopped my mother. My mother is a former assistant manager of the store manager and our store manager asked my mother if I was still dating my manager. This upsets not just my mother, but me and him as well because we are trying to move on from the situation and I find very unprofessional of our s.m. to go and ask my mother about MY personal life/decisions.
I understand that if we did date, more drama at work would happen, which all the girls at work are already upset because he is choosing me over them. I also get the idea that we have to keep it professional, and we do every single time we work. Once in a while yeah, I'll flirt a bit, but a lot of the other girls at work do it too, so they really can't single me out on that. Another thing I understand is that our s.m. is trying to protect us both, away from possible trouble and the trouble if we broke up. I get that I'm just a normal employee and he is a manager, but that has yet to keep us from doing our individual jobs; meaning that I'm not getting the easy way out of things when he works. But the point is, I'm tired of the b.s. going on with people saying we are dating (and we aren't) and the s.m. finding out and nothing but more talk about the subject from other employees who have no right to say anything about the issue, and adding on to the fact the s.m. telling not so much us, but him that we can't date. Can our store manager really control our personal lives/decisions like this? And can either of us get fired for something like this?
Asked Jan 22, 2013
I agree with you that it's unprofessional for your manager to discuss personnel issues with your mother.

Many large organizations maintain policies that prevent husband-wife, girlfriend-boyfriend and sometimes members of the same family from working together. It increases the risk of personal squabbles being brought into the workplace and in extreme cases can provide opportunities for conspiracy to embezzle company money.

Your store manager cannot control you or your manager's social lives, however, if the company has a stated policy prohibiting people in such relationships from working together he can move one of you to another department or terminate you for violating the company policy.
Answered Jan 22, 2013
Edited Jan 22, 2013
So here's a business owner's view...

I agree the manager was unprofessional to speak to your mother about this.... however...

This isn't about the store manager controlling your personal life. You didn't keep your private life private. A situation that you created is clearly impacting the store... that he manages... and that's why it's his concern. It IS his problem when your coworkers think you are receiving preferential treatment because of your personal life. Whether you are or not isn't the issue. The issue is that you have created a situation at your place of business that makes your coworkers uncomfortable... _That_ is what makes it your store manager's business. He wouldn't give a flip about your personal life if you hadn't allowed it to negatively impact your coworkers and managers. And all of that has a negative impact on the business... which is your store managers concern.

When you flirt at work, or date at work, or bring your personal life to work, or conduct your personal life at work, it creates problems with your coworkers, your managers, and every one around you. Not only does this create a problem for everyone else, it hurts you. It injured your relationships with your coworkers, and your store manager thinks so little of your judgement that he's checking up on you with your mother!

THAT's why companies discourage workplace romance and that's why it hurts careers.

Like Rob said, depending on the company's policy, he can transfer or fire one or both of you. Check your employee handbook and employment contract to see how much worrying you have to do.

If your reputation, credibility, and relationships at work are damaged so much that you can't perform your job well or have tainted the environment beyond repair, then you have other problems. I would advise anyone I mentor to look for another job and not make the same mistake again.
Answered Jan 22, 2013

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