A German court has upheld the right of Wal-Mart staff in Germany to flirt at work, a spokesman said Thursday, showing that Germany's restrictive labor laws also have their permissive aspects.

The court rejected parts of Wal-Mart's code of conduct relating to employees' love lives, alcohol and drug use and a requirement for staff to report code violations via a so-called ethics hotline, the spokesman said.

He could not immediately confirm the grounds on which the Wuppertal employment court had ordered the clauses to be removed for German staff, saying the judge's opinion was still in the process of being written.

The Financial Times Deutschland said the court had found the clauses, including one banning "any kind of communication that could be interpreted as sexual," contradicted German labor law, in its ruling on the case brought by Wal-Mart's works council.

Wal-Mart Germany, which is based in Wuppertal and can appeal against the decision, had no immediate comment.

The ruling could have far-reaching effects for U.S. companies with staff in Germany. Such restrictions are increasingly common in U.S. corporate culture as firms seek to prevent scandals that could damage their reputation.

An affair with a female executive led to the downfall of Boeing's chief executive in March. The company fired Harry Stonecipher when the affair came to light, saying his conduct broke company rules and damaged his ability to lead.

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