Author: Jessica Elichman
When to Use This Policy
Relationships between employees as well as between supervisors and subordinates may create a number of issues for employers. If other employees are aware of such relationships, employees may claim that the subordinate employee received preferential treatment. Additionally, if the relationship ends, one of the employees may claim the relationship was not consensual, that she was sexually harassed, or that she was retaliated against if she receives a poor performance review from her former paramour.
Employers may address the potential exposure resulting from employee dating by either adopting a policy prohibiting dating or by adopting a policy that permits employee dating, but requires disclosure of such relationship. If a relationship exists, the employer should require the employees notify management. Prohibiting employee dating altogether may be difficult because workplace relationships will inevitably still occur, but employees will attempt to conceal relationships from the employer. If employees do not disclose their relationships, employers will be unable to monitor such relationships, and therefore cannot monitor workplace interactions to assure fair treatment and that harassment or favoritism does not occur. A policy requiring disclosure permits the employer to document the consensual nature of the relationship, and take precautionary measures, including changing reporting structures and providing guidance regarding appropriate workplace conduct.
Below is a model policy that should be further tailored to fit the employer's specific needs