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Love Among the Cubicles? Localities’ Rules Vary 

So it seems logical to ask: What is the city’s policy on bosses dating subordinates?

It’s generally prohibited in the corporate world. And some local governments, including Chesterfield County, have written policies against it.

Richmond, however, doesn’t ban the practice outright.

“It’s unwritten but clearly a professional rule of thumb,” says Chester Brazzell, director of human resources for the city. “Relationships between persons under direct chain of command is not in the best interest of any working environment.”

Brazzell says the city looks at such relationships on a case-by-case basis. And there is a policy against nepotism. Specifically, “it is the policy of the city not to place immediate family members in a supervisory/subordinate relationship in the same agency,” Brazzell says, reading from the city charter.

And, as far as he can tell, interoffice dating really isn’t a big problem at City Hall. “Fortunately, I think we’ve had very good success in not having to deal with these problems,” Brazzell says.

Ditto for Henrico County. Family members are expressly prohibited from working “in a direct supervisor/subordinate relationship,” says George H. Cauble, director of human resources for Henrico. Dating is not forbidden, though it is frowned upon.

Chesterfield County, however, bans romantic relationships between supervisors and subordinates under its sexual harassment policy. Michael Yeatts, Chesterfield’s employee relations administrator, says Chesterfield bans such relationships because a “supervisor could inadvertently imply that they should date them,” which could put the underling in an awkward position akin to sexual harassment.

Still, no one knows for sure what happened in the Vinson case — except Vinson and Dyson. (Neither could be reached by press time; neither could Vinson’s attorney.)

Regardless, that point is moot. City Council forced Vinson to resign last week after a jury declined to convict him of charges of misusing his office by reducing his own house’s tax bill.

— Scott Bass
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