How to Deal with Office Romances
Love does make the world go around, but if that love is blooming in your office, it could actually drag your company into the courtroom. Office romances are extremely tricky, and many employers fail to treat these with the seriousness they deserve.
Romantic relationships in the office are far more common than employers realize. According to some statistics, more than 70% of single employees will have an office romance over the course of their career. It may not be possible for an employer to absolutely ban any kind of office romance. When people are working together, there is potential for a romantic relationship.
However, certain types of relationships are absolutely undesirable. For instance, a romantic or any other sexual relationship between a boss and an employee is the kind of relationship that has extremely high litigation potential. In such cases, when the relationship goes sour, an employee can always claim she was forced to have a sexual relationship with the boss, under threat of termination of her position at the company.
Also, step in as an employer when you discover a romantic relationship between an employee and vendor. These are relationships where litigation potential is high, because the conflict of interest is too great for you to ignore.
How do you deal with office romances in your workplace? Employers choose to deal with this in different ways. The law doesn’t specifically state that two people in the same workplace should not enter into a consensual sexual relationship. However, some employers choose to step in and intervene when there are two people in the same workplace involved in a romantic relationship. These persons may be asked to sign an agreement that clearly states that their relationship is purely consensual. The agreement can also prohibit public displays of affection in the workplace, and can also safeguard the workplace against any retaliatory action when the relationship ends. This way, employers can avoid dictating who their employees should or should not date, while protecting the workplace.
You can also include a “no-dating” policy in your employee manual to discourage the development of such relationships in the workplace. However, these policies may not be 100 percent effective because people may end up dating even with such policies in place.