Whether you are a small business owner or oversee a multinational corporation, having a dedicated, yet collegial workplace is critical to the success of the business. You want colleagues to have great working and interpersonal relationships, but you are always mindful of what can happen if co-workers develop romantic relationships.
On the one hand, who can intervene or fend off genuine love? The old adage surrounding the heart wanting what it wants can override any office regulation. On the other hand, if office romances are not discouraged, employees may be less likely to report sexual harassment; or even more damaging, it could signal that the company condones such harassment.
Indeed, an employer must walk a fine line when it comes to office romances. This post will provide some helpful guidance.
Keep employees educated – Workers should be updated on what actions do, and do not, amount to sexual harassment. This could include having workshops on inappropriate advances or conversations, as well as reminders on what the employee handbook includes regarding sexual harassment.
Encourage reports on harassment – Arguably the most common reason why harassment is not reported is because the person who is harassed does not believe that anyone will do something about the harasser’s behavior.
Discourage dating between direct reports – Simply put, this is a recipe for disaster; even if the advances and/or relationship are consensual.
Apply rules evenly and consistently – Whatever the company’s policy is on dating between co-workers, it has to be applied evenly between men and women, and between heterosexual and homosexual couples.
The preceding is not legal advice. If you have questions on crafting dating and romantic relationship policies, an experienced employment law attorney can help.