Polyamorous Employee


I would like to ask you about UCAR's Equal Employment Opportunity policy.
The policy manual lists both sexual orientation and marital status as
protected characteristics. Is that interpreted to include polyamorous
individuals? (If you don't know what polyamory is, Wikipedia's explanation
is pretty good.)

I am in a same-sex triad relationship. Basically, I have two domestic
partners. The three of us live together and it's pretty much just like a
conventional two-person union (same-sex or not), except there are three of
us instead of two.

Naturally, our relationship has no legal standing according to the state of
Colorado, but UCAR's policies are considerably more open-minded than state law.

I just want to know this: can I go to Human Resources and ask questions
about how to best manage my unusual situation without fear of losing my
job? Can I safely talk about my home life in the cafeteria? Am I, in short,
protected from discrimination by someone who would find my family situation
objectionable, or is it something that I need to keep quiet about?

(And if the answer is "No, you're not protected," do you have any insights
into how the EEO policy has historically been expanded?)

Thanks very much.

Answered on April 20, 2006


Your question speaks to two different aspects of your employment at
UCAR—your professional employment relationship with the organization and
your interpersonal relationships with fellow employees.

Yes, you may certainly discuss your situation with Human Resources (or with
a supervisor) without fear of losing your job. UCAR makes employment
decisions based on job-related factors without regard to sexual orientation
and/or marital status.

While UCAR believes that diversity of all types enriches our workplace, we
acknowledge that there are individual preferences related to politics,
lifestyle, and the like. While harassment would not be tolerated, I am sure
you understand that UCAR cannot control reactions and perceptions that may
occur upon sharing personal information of any type with fellow employees.
You are probably the best judge of the tolerance and understanding of your
workplace friends and peers.

If you were to experience a conflict with a supervisor or co-worker that
you were unable to resolve—whether or not it has to do with your sexual
orientation or marital status—we would encourage you to meet with your
Human Resources Generalist who can provide guidance. This option is always
open to any UCAR employee who is experiencing a problem with conflict in
the workplace.

—Terry Woods, Manager, Human Resources