Manage Employees Who Are Related or Dating

Key Points

  • Nepotism is not illegal but it is best practice for an employer to base employment decisions on merit and not family or romantic relationships. If an employer allows the hiring of family and friends, the employer should enact policies and work rules that will avoid allegations of favoritism and discrimination.
  • An employer may elect to have a written policy prohibiting dating and familial relationships between co-workers or supervisors and subordinates in the workplace to avoid potential conflicts of interest and claims of discrimination and unfair treatment. An employer can also require employees to inform the employer of a dating relationship; this will permit the employer to carefully manage the relationship in the workplace.
  • A love contract may be used by an employer to address concerns regarding employee dating. A love contract sets forth the parameters for a workplace relationship, reminds the employees involved of the employer's harassment policies, and explains that, if the relationship ends, any form of retaliation is prohibited. Having employees involved in a dating relationship sign a love contract protects the employer should claims of harassment arise after the relationship ends.

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