ASSOCIATE RELATIONSHIPS


Throughout its history, Kohler Co. has recognized, supported and appreciated the contributions of Kohler Co. associates who are married to each other and has embraced these associates’ commitment to their families and Kohler Co. On occasion, however, a personal relationship between married or unmarried Kohler Co. associates can have unintended consequences in the workplace if proper steps are not taken to address issues that may arise as a result of such relationships. While Kohler Co. does not prevent the development of friendships or romantic relationships between associates, it does, however, establish boundaries for such relationships in the workplace in order to avoid actual, potential or perceived favoritism, improper influence over an individual’s terms and conditions of employment, conflicts of interest, sexual harassment and opportunities for collusion. The existence of boundaries between personal and business interactions of associates is necessary to achieve a productive and collegial work environment for all associates.

As such, associates in close personal relationships may not work in positions where there is a direct, indirect or perceived reporting relationship between the associates or where one associate could influence the other’s terms or conditions of employment including, but not limited to, decisions related to hiring, salary, career advancement, performance appraisal, job assignments, termination or other disciplinary actions.

Associates may also not have a close personal relationship with an individual who works as a vendor, supplier or customer of Kohler Co., where there is the opportunity for the relationship to create a conflict of interest or opportunity for collusion between the associate and the outside individual that could negatively impact the business relationship that Kohler Co. has with the vendor, supplier or customer.

It is our responsibility as associates to promptly report any existing or potential close personal relationships that may violate this policy to our HR Representative and/or Labor Relations so the Company can make a determination as to whether the relationship presents an actual, perceived or potential conflict of interest or creates other workplace issues. If the Company determines in its sole discretion that an issue exists, it will take whatever action it deems appropriate to resolve the situation. An associate’s failure to disclose the relationship in a timely manner may also lead to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

It is not the Company’s intent to dictate choices made in an associate’s personal life. Associates must understand, however, that Kohler Co. maintains high standards of conduct for all of its associates to promote a fair, conflict-free workplace. Violations of this policy negatively impact the high standards that are expected from all associates.

 

The Scenario

You take pride in the fact that your team is a pretty tightly knit group. But recently you have noticed that your supervisor, Javier, and one of your coworkers, Jen, seem to have been traveling together more frequently and formed a connection that appears to be closer than normal. There is no direct proof of the exact extent of their relationship; however, you recently have noticed that Javier’s decision-making regarding Jen’s performance and project management seem to be clouded by their close personal tie. Not wanting to pry or seem overly paranoid, you feel like maybe you should just try to ignore it. But you worry that their escalating personal relationship may disrupt the dynamics and effectiveness of the group.

 

Our Stance

While Kohler Co. has always recognized, supported and appreciated the contributions of married and non-married associates with close personal relationships, the Company is committed to preventing the unintended negative consequences that these relationships may have in the professional environment. In order to effectively maintain the existence of boundaries between personal and business interactions and the productive nature of the team, it is essential to promptly report any existing or potential close personal relationship that may pose as a conflict of interest. If personal relationships are reported in a timely fashion, Kohler Co. can often take steps to rearrange reporting structures to eliminate any perceived perceptions or negative consequences.