With Valentine’s Day around the corner, romance is in the air—and maybe even in the workplace. But while workplace romance may be a nice diversion for those involved, it can create some big risks for employers. This can include the threat of sexual harassment lawsuits when a relationship sours, lowered productivity, and even diminished morale among co-workers. What’s more, when a boss is involved in a romantic relationship with a subordinate, co-workers could have a “sexual favoritism” claim if the object of the boss’s affection is getting preferential workplace treatment, such as promotions and raises.
How To Survive an Employee Lawsuit: 10 Tips for Success
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What can you do to manage workplace romance and avoid problems and lawsuits? Here are three tips:
- Consider a nonfraternization policy, which informs employees that if a personal relationship creates conflicts of interest or engenders a negative or hostile work environment, one or both individuals involved may be asked to transfer or resign. The policy can also bar managers from participating in employment decisions if they have a romantic or other close relationship with the employee.
- Stay up to date on sexual harassment training for all employees.
- Respond promptly and investigate thoroughly if an employee complains about sexual harassment, including when the complaint stems from what looked to be a consensual relationship or when someone complains of sexual favoritism.
Sample Nonfraternization Policy
ERI Special Report: The Employer’s Compliance Guide to Supervisor Sexual Harassment Training in California