Office Romances Can Have Employers Flirting With Trouble

Is there love in the air at your company?  We’re not talking about people who love their jobs…we’re talking about employees who find love while on the job, and this could lead to a bad breakup for business owners.

Workplace romances are not uncommon these days, especially since men and women work together putting in longer hours than ever before.  The reason that employers should be concerned about romance in the workplace is its potential effect on other employees and the potential for costly litigation, especially when the love affair is between a supervisor and a subordinate.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, 43% of human resources managers have reported incidences of romance in the workplace.  The largest potential legal landmine for employers is a claim of sexual harassment.  Gossip and decreased productivity can also have a negative effect on a company’s work environment and, ultimately, the bottom line.

Banning office romances is unrealistic and difficult to enforce.  Instead, companies should have a clear policy on workplace romance, spelling out what is allowed and what is not and the consequences for breaking these rules.  This policy should include informing the employer of any romantic relationship, whether it is between peers or a supervisor and his or her employee.

Once a policy has been clearly defined, employers must take the next critical step in training employees on the policy, particularly sexual harassment training.  The policy should be enforced uniformly across all levels of the organization to avoid costly litigation.

Companies of every size can benefit from having clear-cut rules on workplace romance; even small companies will want to take this step since the cost of defending an employment lawsuit can be devastating.

To learn more about maintaining good employment law practices, call us today to schedule your comprehensive LIFT™ (legal, insurance, financial and tax) Foundation Audit.  Normally, this session is $1,250, but if you mention this article and we still have room on our calendar this month, we will waive that fee.