Joe Salatino, President of Great Northern American Case Study
At some time during your working life, you may have dated, or even married, someone you met at work. If you haven't, then the odds are that you know someone who has. A 1995 survey estimated that 80 percent of all employees have either observed or been involved in a romantic relationship at work.
1. The Problems with Employee Dating
Even though romantic relationships in the workplace are common, employers have legitimate reasons for concern about employee dating. The biggest fear is a sexual harassment lawsuit arising from either: 1) a supervisor who has a habit of asking subordinates out on dates; 2) an employee who files a lawsuit after a consensual relationship goes sour; or 3) the perception of …show more content…
The first problem is that Oregon law protects spouses who work for the same employer. So long as the spouses don't supervise one another, a "no dating" policy enforced against spouses would violate this law. Another problem arises from concerns about an employee's right to privacy while off the job. An employer may violate an employee's right to privacy by regulating the employee's private off-work relationships. The employer is most at risk when trying to investigate and enforce a "no dating" policy by hiring a private investigator to follow the employee around, secretly reviewing an employee's voice mail, or listening in on an employee's office phone line.
3. Consensual Relationship Agreements
As an alternative, some employers require that employees enter a "consensual relationship agreement." The agreement, signed by both employees and management, provides that the employees will not allow the relationship to interfere with or impact the work environment. The agreement also confirms and documents that the relationship is consensual and voluntary. The employer should attach a copy of the company's sexual harassment policy to the agreement to prove that the employee was aware of the sexual harassment policy and had the opportunity to report any inappropriate conduct by the other