Wal-Mart lost something in translation this week, when a German labor court ruled that part of the American retailer’s ethics code of conduct for its workers was ruled a violation of German law. Wal-Mart’s ethics code bans relationships between employees — but that restriction does not work in Germany. A spokesman for the labor court in the German city of Wuppertal said the court ruled against the ban on relationships and against a proposed hot line for employees to report on colleagues’ violations of the code. Wal-Mart was sued in March by labor representatives at their 91 stores in Germany. Under German law, employee-management councils must sign off on a wide range of workplace conditions, and the disputed provisions were never approved by the workers. Wal-Mart told the court its guidelines were intended to maintain a safe environment in the workplace. It is not clear how workers dating one another creates an unsafe environment,
Wal-Mart’s personnel handbook for its American employees states, “Under no circumstances may a supervisor become romantically involved with someone he or she supervises, or with someone whose terms or conditions of employment he or she may influence. Supervisory hourly associates may not date associates they supervise.” So it looks like its OK for a Greeter to fall in love with another Greeter, or a bagger with a bagger. Wal-Mart is a powerful company, but should they really try to control who their workforce falls in love with? Where does personal privacy end, and corporate rules begin? Achtung, Wal-Mart workers: anyone caught falling in love inside a Wal-Mart store will be terminated. The Moral Police at Wal-Mart are on patrol!