IES Blog

Addressing office romance

Posted on August 28th, 2013 Read time: 1 minutes

Romance between co-workers can be a nightmare for human resources administration professionals. While courts tend to find perceived favoritism based on workplace relationships to be legal, according to Business Management Daily, such arrangements don't make for smooth sailing. An article in BLR maintained there is a danger of favoritism and hostile work environment claims during an office romance. After it ends, there is the possibility of sexual harassment and retaliation claims.

Despite the very real reasons to hesitate, many employees – permanent and temporary workers alike – do engage in relationships with co-workers. A BLR poll showed 38 percent of respondents had experienced or witnessed damaged co-worker relationships as a result of romance. Some states have regulations about privacy that make it difficult for employers to forbid romance.

However, there is a solution. A voluntary contract, signed by each employee in a relationship, stating that the relationship is consensual and neither party will abuse it, can help shield employers from liability that might arise in connection with these arrangements. These consensual relationship agreements are also known as "love contracts." They outline the expected standards of behavior for employees in a dating relationship.

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