Many people meet at work before beginning a romantic relationship. That would be discriminatory. With a notification policy, the manager the relationship is being reported to must also be required not to disclose the information, to protect privacy. This minimizes many of the risks noted above without prohibiting dating altogether. Although some companies chose to have no policy on dating, that leaves them open to potential liability if a supervisor is shown to have sexually harassed a subordinate, for example, by giving a poor performance review to a former partner. Short of banning all workplace dating, here are some other options that many employers choose: The contract may also include the employees' written confirmation that they have been informed of the company's dating policy and the behavior that is expected of them, such as refraining from any acts of retaliation if the relationship ends. Cohen suggests that banning or limiting dating between supervisors and subordinates is the most important aspect of a dating policy. If escalated, it could even become a situation in which one former partner has the ability to demote, terminate, or give negative reviews to the other—all of which could lead to problems including lawsuits. Check your state and local laws for exceptions, which do exist and are usually centered on employee privacy or limitations for employers on prohibiting nonwork activities. Prohibiting it could decrease morale and could even result in losing employees who wish to date coworkers but cannot. The employers may fear: Bridget Miller is a business consultant with a specialized MBA in International Economics and Management, which provides a unique perspective on business challenges. This can cause other problems, such as loss of confidence from clients or shareholders.
Love Contracts This is a written confirmation to management that any relationship taking place between employees is consensual. If escalated, it could even become a situation in which one former partner has the ability to demote, terminate, or give negative reviews to the other—all of which could lead to problems including lawsuits. This is especially a risk if one of the partners is in a supervisory position or otherwise can grant favors for the other. This is also a concern when the relationship is going well—a partner may feel their options are limited at the company due to the relationship. Every company needs to consider a policy on workplace dating. This helps to protect the company from later charges that the relationship was not consensual and constituted sexual harassment. Additionally, if a regular relationship ends, it could result in a situation where one former partner has a claim of harassment against the other. The case, which struck down a Texas law banning consensual homosexual relationships, has been interpreted as upholding the right of all consenting adults to engage in private sexual activity. Even regular relationship activities can create an atmosphere that promotes harassment of others. Notification Policy Another option is to require employees to report whenever they enter into a consensual relationship. Employers could potentially be barred from banning workplace romances as a violation of the employee's constitutional right to privacy. With a notification policy, the manager the relationship is being reported to must also be required not to disclose the information, to protect privacy. However, even if legal, banning any work romantic involvement can come with its own consequences. Either way, higher turnover can result. Without a clear policy, an office relationship can lead to charges of sexual harassment and legal consequences for the employer. To avoid this, companies institute various types of dating policy. With this type of policy, the employees would also have to notify you whenever a relationship ends. But can they prohibit it? If dating is allowed, it may foster an environment where more activity occurs that could give rise to a harassment claim. Some employers limit the prohibition to only those relationships in which one romantic partner has a role of authority over the other. Policy Guidelines When writing a workplace dating policy, it is important to reduce your potential legal liability. The problem, however, is that in the absence of a specific ban, what does the policy actually do? She argues that any policy must be applied consistently and should set out clearly how decisions will be made. Some employers simply require disclosure of relationships. So, can an employer do something about these concerns? This minimizes many of the risks noted above without prohibiting dating altogether.
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