When romantic relationships enter the workplace, the relationship is no longer just between two people, but can affect coworkers, supervisors. One of our employees, Megan, started on my team last fall and it employers don't want their supervisors to date employees on their teams. I have worked several places where the boss was dating one of the the secretary the CEO promoted to be the Project Manager because he.
Sexual Favoritism Employers must also be aware of any sexual favoritism that may result from romantic relationships. Third party employees who are not involved in the relationship may be motivated to bring claims of sexual favoritism if they see a coworker receive job benefits as a result of being intimately involved with a supervisor. Miller Anti-Nepotism and Anti-Fraternization Policies There are several steps employers can take to set standards of conduct for workplace relationships and manage office romances.
Federal and state laws, as well as the California Constitution, generally prohibit employers from making employment decisions based on marital status. Anti-nepotism and anti-fraternization policies, however, are permissible. If a personal relationship in the workplace would affect supervision, efficiency, security, or morale, an employer would have a strong argument for implementing and enforcing anti-nepotism and anti-fraternization policies.
These policies should require employees to immediately disclose romantic workplace relationships to a supervisor or manager. By requiring disclosure, employers can red flag romantic relationships between supervisors and subordinates or relationships that create a conflict of interest.
Household Automotive Finance Corp. Once an employer learns of a romantic workplace relationship, the employer should immediately explore all options and take non-discriminatory corrective action.
Pursuant to a policy, employers can reassign or transfer one or both of the employees. If an employee violates the anti-nepotism or anti-fraternization policy despite notice of the policy, an employer may choose to take disciplinary action against the employee. This may be the right decision if an employee has a pattern or practice of engaging in office relationships that disrupt the workplace. Employers should uniformly enforce anti-nepotism and anti-fraternization policies. They should not ignore some relationships while taking action against other relationships.
Employers should regularly circulate policies with their personnel rules or memorandum of understanding. When it comes to workplace dating policies, here are a few basic options: You can do nothing. This seems to be the overwhelming favorite for smaller companies or companies that are just starting to formalize employee training.Should You Date Your Boss?
Often a CEO or president will look at the potential for risk and weigh that against the ability to police and enforce a policy. For many smaller companies, they choose to go without a policy, and let the rules on harassment and discrimination do the job. Note that you should always have a policy prohibiting and enforcing sexual harassment and discrimination. You can ban it. This is another common method, known as an "anti-fraternization policy.
Laws About Relationships Between Employees & Supervisors
You have to define and often describe the conduct you want to prohibit. Will the policy restrict casual dating, relationships, romantic involvement, or socializing? Can you even define those terms? I can tell you that the last place you want a policy defined is in the courts.
Manager & Employee Dating
A less restrictive policy that a lot of companies have is one preventing nepotism--prohibiting spouses or relatives from working at the same company or preventing employees from supervising related coworkers.
You can allow it, with written disclosure. This is commonly known as the "Love Contract" approach. A signed document will confirm a consensual relationship and provide additional notice of understanding of the sexual harassment policy. You can often use the contract process to outline expected behavior like no "PDA"--public displays of affection--at work or retaliation if the relationship ends.
Make sure that you inform the employees that they have a right to and should talk to a lawyer before signing. You can allow it, but never within the chain of authority.
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While this policy is easier to sell to employees most are not inside each other's reporting chainyou still have a lot of the same problems about defining conduct and what is not allowed. You can also have employees report a romantic relationship to a company representative, like an HR official. Having information up front will allow you to better respond to complaints of discrimination or favoritism.
Make sure that your HR representatives understand they can't disclose the existence of the relationship to anyone unless it's necessary to respond to complaints. Generally, policies cover not only employees, but also contractors, vendors, suppliers, manufacturers, and the like. Essentially, any relationship between two people that could have a negative effect on the company if things sour, or if one party is able to improperly influence the other would fall under the policy.
One last generally acceptable rule: Even if it does not violate a written policy, your boss the CEO or the board might not care, and view it as a lack of senior management acumen.
Think of it this way: Is the potential relationship worth risking your good job or name?