The Richmond Register

Viewpoints

December 9, 2012

The case of the office Santa Claus

You be the judge

BEREA — While Norman was only a little squeak at home, he was a big noise at the office. Friendly and full of fun, he liked everybody and everybody seemed to like him. He got along particularly well with one of the prettier secretaries in the office and at Christmas time, he gave her several pairs of nylon stockings.

When Norman’s wife heard about the gift and confronted him, Norman insisted that the gift was only intended to promote the spirit of the season. His wife, however, insisted that it was intended to promote something a little more. She ultimately sued to end their marriage on the grounds of cruel and inhuman treatment.

“There is nothing more humiliating,” Norman’s wife complained in court, “than to discover your husband has been playing Santa Claus to other women – by giving them underwear no less!”

“What other women?” retorted Norman. “The girl is just a secretary in the office and a friend of mine. What’s more respectable than exchanging gifts at Christmas time? I gave her nylons and she gave me ties. It was all very proper.”

IF YOU WERE THE JUDGE, would you end Norman’s marriage because he played Santa Claus?

This is how the judge ruled: NO! The judge held that Norman’s gift to a fellow employee indicated no improper conduct on his part. It was only part of the harmless custom, noted the judge, of exchanging presents at Christmas.

(Based upon a 1941 Kentucky Supreme Court Decision)

Jack Strauss, a retired New York City trial attorney who now resides in Berea, wrote a syndicated column for 36 years called, “What’s the Law?” It appeared in papers coast to coast, including the Pittsburgh Press, the Los Angeles Examiner, the Hartford Times, the Kansas City Star and the Philadelphia Daily News, among many others. It appears here with his permission.

©, 1979, United Feature Syndicate, Inc.

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