Interoffice romance

Related Articles

Ask the Experts: I-9, W-9, E-Verify and more!

Ask the Experts: The DOL's Proposed Exemption Changes

Attendance policies

Avoiding penalties under the Affordable Care Act

Birthdays in the workplace

Bullying in the workplace

Dress Codes: Who, What, Wear

Employee fringe benefits

Employment law checkup

Favorite HR sites

I-9 Form, ins and outs

Immigration: new authorization to work

Interview with attorney J. Hagood Tighe

Interview with Fiona Ong

Nepotism: Favoring relatives and friends in the workplace

Performance evaluations

Politics in the workplace

Social media and employment

Technology in the Workplace


Valentine's Day heartaches around the office

Wearable Technology


Workplace posting requirements

Interoffice romance

Published about over 2 years ago

Share this on

A recent poll shows that over 40% of Americans have dated a coworker, making the topic of inter-office romance pretty hard to ignore. While you may be glad that your staff is finding happiness, there are several serious issues that can be brought up when employees start dating and employers should be sure to protect themselves. Protecting against harassment  One of the biggest concerns with inter-office relationships is harassment. Employers should have a clear anti-harassment policy in place that outlines what behavior is acceptable and unacceptable. Such policies should clearly state that employees are safe from retaliation if they come forth with any harassment claims.  Non-fraternization policies One option for employers is to completely prohibit relationships at work in order to reduce the risk of sexual harassment and related claims by instituting a "non-fraternization" policy. However, these policies can have negative effects as well. Most likely employees will continue to have relationships and employers won’t have the opportunity to lessen the possible negative results. Also such a strict policy is bad for employee morale as it makes the employer seem overbearing. Subordinates and managers Office romances are also problematic when an employee in a position of power dates a subordinate. If the relationship sours, allegations of retaliation or harassment could be made. Even if the relationship goes well, other employees may say the supervisor is showing favoritism. Employers should consider a policy against such relationships, or one that requires employees to disclose these relationships and sign agreements for solutions for if the relationship becomes problematic (i.e. one employee would be transferred). Love contracts A consensual relationship agreement, sometimes called a love contract, is a written document signed by two employees in a consensual relationship acknowledging the relationship is voluntary.  These disclosures usually contain a reminder of the company's harassment, discrimination, and retaliation policies, as well as a clear acknowledgment that the relationship is consensual. These forms are a good way for employers to remind employees of their policies and protect themselves from future lawsuits.  Prohibiting inappropriate workplace conduct No matter your stance on inner-office dating, employers should have policies in place outlawing certain behaviors that can make other employees uncomfortable and lead to harassment charges. Employers should have policies which clearly state: no overt displays of affection at work, including kissing or hand-holding work communications systems are to be used for work only – no personal email or voice mail using working time or company equipment employees must behave professionally and in a business-like manner while at work or all company functions romantic squabbles should be left outside of the workplace. Click here to order our brand new, all-in-one federal compliance poster for your break room. Looking for more sample policies and important forms? Click here to gain more access.