A Question of Propriety: Divorce Case
When she called up I was surprised and shocked. I had not imagined that the situation could be so bad. She was seeking a meeting with me, and said that her son was just a few months old. She wanted to make sure that when she travels a long distance to meet me, I will give her adequate time to hear her case.
She said there was no choice left then, she was expecting her husband, an employee, to file a divorce petition soon. She wanted to meet me in that matter, she sought my help. I used a small pause to gather myself. Obviously there was a conflict between an employee and his wife, and I was getting drawn in it somehow. ‘Limits are placed by one’s official role;’ I explained her, adding ‘I will not be able to transgress those limits.’ I also told her that as an HR manager my first responsibility is to my employees, not to others.
She said she understood my position, but politely pointed out that I was taking a stance before hearing her. She was articulate, persuasive and spoke fluent English. Something inside me told me that the situation was serious and I must exercise caution.
When it became clear by evening that I will have to travel to Hyderabad, I wondered at the synchronicity. She had called up from Hyderabad and she was going to travel all the way to Mumbai to meet me. And work demands that I go to Hyderabad the next day!
I called her up and mentioned my travel plan. I invited her to meet me at my hotel. She was welcome to join me for a breakfast meeting, I advised her, with her father. She came there with her father and uncle. She introduced herself, she was well qualified, a post graduate. Her marriage was arranged through some known persons. The young lady was not even thirty. Her husband was placed abroad for work and had a three year contract. She travelled with him. Not a happy marriage, she said. They fought bitterly. He treated her badly. The two year old marriage was on the rocks.
It was a dowry case!
The young lady was surprisingly well composed and did not make a melodrama of her story. Attempts to reconcile had failed. He was now shifted to India and she did not know his salary at all. He was giving her no money, and did not even come over to meet his son.
She said that he would present wrong information to the court about his salary which would affect her claim for alimony adversely. I should help her by giving her his salary details, she said, so that she could file a justified claim for maintenance.
Discreet enquiries led me to conclude that the facts explained by her were essentially correct, although I could not ascertain whether it was a dowry case. She called up later gave exact details of income mentioned by him. It was clear that he was misleading the court.
Normally salary details of an employee are never given to anyone except in some cases to banks. I wondered what I should do in such a case.
What would you suggest? Would you give it to her if you were in my position?
Very well articulated . Compels me to think.
Though I would be tempted to share employee information , because it seems for a genuine cause. Yet we have not even listened to the other party once . ( here the guy). Would suggest to talk to the employee also once.
I would advise her to :
(a) Get a good lawyer who could put forth successfully, a doubt , regarding husband's emoluments/remuneration, in the mind of the Court, and pray for an investigation to ascertain the veracity of the husband,s job details.
(b) When the court directs so, you can then give the job salary details to the Court , which can then pull up the fellow for misleading it.
(c) This way you also get to talk to the other party yourself.
Just my 2 paisa non-HR advise:-))
Thanks Ugich Konitari.
Interesting case, sir.
If I were in a similar situation, I would definitely be tempted to give the details to the wife But I think it would be best to ask her to hire a lawyer and clarify the salary details in court. I'd also have a word with the employee to hear his side of the story and be fair to both parties.
Sir, it is observed that the court like any other case, shall ask for salary details and thus organization is bound to share the same.Till then, u may suggest a range, and that is allowed because as on organization, you may be recruiting at the same level as well and this detail falls in public knowledge.
Keep in touch,
It is indeed a dilemma. What I would have done is to share with the employee about this meeting with his wife and be transparent. I would also have impressed upon the employee the fact that it will be very easy for the court once the proceedings start to call for employees latest salary details from the employer.
Why to wait for the court's order. ?
Wisdom lies in sharing the details.In being transparent.
But I would not have shared the salary details without knowledge, consent of the employee.
Thanks Abhijit, I liked your mature response.
"Separate the position from the interest" as you would say in Conflict Management classes… your interest to help the lady cannot come in conflict with your position to share exact salary details requested.
To discuss directly with the concerned employee and show him the path of righteousness, in today's age and time, is a risky appeal to his dormat goodness; it is risky eventually for the lady, it is ultimately going to be her legal battle.
The court most definitely would ask the organization to validate the salary details. so sharing salary details with the lady is not needed.
The aspect of dowry is tricky. It might not be part of your direct question Sir, but dowry issues and physical abuse can be grounds of seeking alimony also. But things get subjective and need to be substantially proven on such grounds. Cases get delayed and alimony is denied, even, or substantially reduced… so its imperative for the lady to also be very clear about how she would approach her case in the court of law! Husband's salary related alimony is hardly the difficult part.
Very interesting case,
1.)Being an employee of an organization it is not advisable to share salary details of employees with others,
2.)If the court request the organizations/bank to provide the salary/bank statement details as a proof to the case, will the organization be bound to provide the details? If yes then the employee doesn't stand a chance of providing wrong salary details. Even if he does he will be proved wrong
3.)You might want to discuss the same with the employee and explain the implications of the case and advise that he does what is legally right.
No, I would be recommending NOT to share the salary details unless the court asks to do so.
By sharing, 1) you would breach the contract of confidentiality of data.. The employee is responsible of sharing his details to his family
2) The information would be shared basis 1 side of story (if shared with wife) The truth is yet to be verified. By truth, i mean the wife's allegations and her claim for alimony.
3) It is not organization's job to investigate private matters. SO the question of 2nd side of the story would make me extra cautious of getting into a legal tangle.
As far as consulting the employee and being transparent, I would not want to add fuel to fire (should that lead to more stress between the couple)
Final answer to the question – NO (this may seem as too defensive approach)
Hi sir. nice blog.
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