Author: Beth Zoller, XpertHR Legal Editor
Because an increasing number of workers are entering into romantic relationships in the workplace, it is necessary for employers to monitor and manage such relationships in order to protect their own business interests, maintain a fair and professional workplace and minimize the risk of a lawsuit.
Employers may address these concerns by having comprehensive policies in place, training supervisors and HR on how to deal with workplace romance, instructing all workers on appropriate workplace conduct and setting parameters for dating and close personal relationships at work.
Using XpertHR's various Tools and resources will aid employers in managing romantic relationships in the workplace.
Because permitting employees who are romantically involved to work together opens an employer up to the risk of a lawsuit, employers need to know how to properly manage and monitor such relationships. To aid with this, XpertHR offers the following task:
It is critical that employers understand how to manage and monitor dating and romantic relationships in the workplace, ensure proper workplace conduct and minimize the risk of employer liability stemming from such relationships. Employers also need to know how to prevent discrimination, harassment and retaliation. Step-by-step guidance for employers addressing these concerns is available through the following How Tos:
Supervisors should know how to handle discrimination, harassment and retaliation in the workplace and detect signs of unfair treatment. Superiors should also know what constitutes appropriate and inappropriate behavior. XpertHR offers the following Supervisor Briefings to help supervisors know and understand these topics:
Policies and Documents
Having proper policies in place regarding dating and personal relationships, discrimination, harassment, retaliation and conflicts of interest is paramount to protecting employer interests and ensuring proper conduct in the workplace. Additionally, an employer may want to have employees who are dating sign a love contract, which will set guidelines for their relationship and outline the employer's expectations while minimizing any potential for liability. XpertHR maintains the below model policies and documents to assist employers:
Employment Law Manual
Understanding romantic relationships in the workplace and the risks it presents to employers is important. XpertHR's Employment Law Manual provides comprehensive information and resources to help, available at the following links:
A comprehensive policy prohibiting relationships between supervisors and employees may be valid and enforceable and supervisors who violate such a policy may be disciplined or terminated. XpertHR carries the below Law Report that explores this issue:
It is important to understand that when a workplace romance ends, it could lead to a claim of sexual harassment. Further, workplace romances can result in claims of favoritism and unfair treatment. XpertHR offers the following Legal Insight that discusses this issue:
XpertHR's blog series includes a post on workplace romance that explores the myriad issues HR faces when confronting romantic relationships and dating in the workplace: