If you own a company, chances are you've had to decide and at times reassess whether to allow consensual dating and romantic relationships among your employees -- or, in legalese, whether and to what extent to adopt an office "non-fraternization" policy. Although there are no laws which outright prohibit interoffice relationships, as shown in the news of late, they carry obvious risks , such as:. Lastly, when romantic relationships fail and let's not kid ourselves -- they usually do , there is the possibility one or both participants may view the once blissful and consensual detente through a lens of revisionist history -- fertile ground for headline-grabbing and costly sex harassment litigation. On the other hand, many view workplace relationships as an inevitable byproduct of today's interconnected world.
Can Employers Legally Forbid Co-workers to Date?
Policies About Workplace Dating | Small Business - aalvik.info
According to a study by online dating site eHarmony, more people meet their spouses at work or school than anywhere else. In fact, some high profile couples -— Bill and Melinda Gates, for example -— began their romances in the office. While some companies are lax when it comes to relationships outside of work, others strictly prohibit off-hours fraternization between employees. 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.
When Love Blooms in the Breakroom: Policies for Workplace Romances
Some companies have policies that specifically forbid employees from dating co-workers, supervisors, vendors or clients. Other companies allow such relationships but require employees to report them. Many companies don't have any policy about dating customers, in which case it becomes a matter of personal and professional judgment. Some companies have broad policies against any form of socialization with clients or customers, which can even include a ban on contacting clients through social media services.
Johnny C. Taylor Jr. The questions are submitted by readers, and Taylor's answers below have been edited for length and clarity. Have a question? Submit it here.