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Office Romance Didn’t Lead to Firing, Court Says

CHICAGO (CN) - An office janitor did not prove that he was fired for refusing to continue a sexual relationship with his boss, the 7th Circuit ruled.

Alshafi Tate says that less than two weeks after he began working at Executive Management Services, he began having sex with his supervisor, Dawn Burban - sometimes at work. Burban denies the sexual relationship.

One year later, Tate got married. However, he says the affair continued and he tried to break it off after Burban called his house and upset his wife.

Tate said Burban threatened three times to fire him if he didn't continue to sleep with her, and he ultimately lost his job. Burban says Tate was fired for refusing to perform a work-related assignment.

The trial court ruled in favor of EMS on the sexual harassment claim and in favor of Tate on the retaliation claim, which EMS appeals.

Judge Williams agreed with EMS that Tate was not engaging in protected behavior because he was not opposing the alleged practice of sexual harassment.

"There is simply no evidence in the record that Tate believed that Burban's actions were unlawful," Williams ruled. "The only statements that take made to Burban were that they 'were not good with each other' and he 'was not messing with her anymore.'"

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