Company dating policies

Weinstein-Wary Businesses Updating Employee Dating Policies

In an era when sexual harassment is a real concern for organizations, the notion of two employees dating each other does have potential for some tricky policy questions. Some argue that if both parties are in a consensual relationship, what they do on their own time has no bearing on the company and should not be prohibited. Others argue that when two co-workers are in a relationship, it has the potential to create uncomfortable situations for everyone -— imagine a staff meeting where two team members have been arguing about their relationship, and those feelings spill over into the meeting -— and thus dating should be prohibited.

No one wants to hear about how a co-worker leaves his socks on the floor, or other more personal details.

While dating is a concern to human resources departments, few companies have actually instituted policies regarding romantic relationships between employees. In fact, law professor Merrick Rossein of the City University of New York estimates that only about a quarter of all companies have such policies.

No-Dating Policies

Most company dating policies focus on the working relationship between the two parties; in other words, they prohibit supervisors or managers from dating their subordinates. While most companies that prohibit dating among co-workers focus on the supervisor—subordinate relationship, some prohibit dating for other reasons.

More importantly, organizations are concerned about potentially embarrassing situations that come from romantically involved employees. Steamy e-mails and texts sent on company time over corporate networks, for example, could cause some discomfort for the company PR team if they are made public.

Notification Policy

Sometimes, avoiding a workplace romance may seem all but impossible. That guy in accounting is just too charming to avoid —- and his feelings about you are mutual. If your employer does have a policy, though, adhere to it.

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Afternoon trysts in the supply closet are only fun on television. An adjunct instructor at Central Maine Community College, Kristen Hamlin is also a freelance writer on topics including lifestyle, education, and business. She is the author of Graduate! Such relationships can be a distraction, leading to gossip, discord among employees, or interoffice jealousies.

Employers have taken different approaches to addressing dating and relationships in the workplace. Some enact policies prohibiting some relationships, whiles others tend to ignore them.

Policies About Workplace Dating |

Employers are concerned about how claims may affect them and their businesses. Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, unwanted physical touching or contacts, and certain verbal remarks or jokes of a sexual nature can be sexual harassment. Dating creates unique issues that can lead to sexual harassment claims and allegations.

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Intimate or sexual touching in front of others may be unwelcome to those who witness it. If such conduct is sufficiently pervasive and offensive, the workplace could be deemed a hostile work environment.

Practice Areas

Finally, even unwanted requests for dates could—in certain circumstances—rise to the level of sexual harassment. In dating relationships, no still means no.

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In some cases, this can constitute a hostile work environment and sexual harassment—even if the overtures are only for dates and no one is sexually propositioned! This risk increases when the relationship comes to an end—particularly if it ends badly. This gives the subordinate a certain amount of leverage and control over the supervisor. A retail client of mine faced a sexual harassment claim because the in-store manager had engaged in sexual activities in the workplace. The supervisor may favor or treat the subordinate preferentially.