Dating in the workplace laws

Are you going to monitor them to ensure compliance? Tempted to make an exception?

What Is The Age Of Consent?

It also outlines the conduct expected upon termination of the relationship. Some employees also will be unlikely to follow the policy—for example, those having an extramarital affair. Before implementing a policy prohibiting dating within the chain of command, you must decide whether you will rearrange reporting relationships to accommodate dating employees or require one of the parties to step down or leave the company. And before implementing a notification policy, you must decide on the ramifications for failing to report.

Moreover, your policies and practices must be consistently enforced and must not appear to have a disparate impact on any protected classification. Finally, you could do nothing and rely solely on your antiharassment and antidiscrimination policies. If you take this approach, conduct regular training on those policies and promote a culture of compliance.

As a result, if you decide to enter into a dating relationship in the workplace, recognize the impact your conduct could have on the company and your professional future. Bottom line Dating relationships between employees are inevitable. We all know couples who met at work. Some relationships work out, and the couple lives happily ever after. Ensuring that the relationship is consensual is what of upmost importance. Understandably, being able to determine whether a relationship between a superior and a subordinate is truly consensual in nature is not an easy task given the power imbalance between the individuals.

No-Dating Policies

Simply relying upon anti-discrimination and harassment policies may not be enough when considering the serious legal liabilities employers could face when these relationships come to the forefront. Accordingly, employers are taking it upon themselves to implement and enforce workplace dating policies. Aside from the risks of discrimination and sexual harassment complaints, other reasons why it makes sense for an employer to have a workplace dating policy in place include wanting to protect its business reputation; ensure productivity is not affected; and to protect employee morale i.

Technically yes, and an employer may think this is the easiest way to protect itself from potential legal liabilities. However, this option seems archaic. It could ultimately lead to an employer having to lose star employees who are faced with the decision of choosing love over continued employment — in the end, it could end up costing the employer money.

Policies About Workplace Dating

Further, a complete ban on workplace dating may deter employees from coming forward to disclose a non-consensual relationship out of fear of losing their job. A more common approach is for employers to have workplace dating policies that prevent intimate relationships between a superior and subordinate especially in the same department , or ones that could create a conflict of interest.


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This type of policy may be preferable in terms of costs i. However, any work-place dating policy an employer has should address what constitutes inappropriate behaviour, any rules governing workplace relationships i. For instance, a policy might allow a workplace relationship so long as it is reported to Human Resources and with written confirmation by the parties that the relationship is in fact consensual. It could be even that the policy covers not only employees, but also contractors, vendors, suppliers, etc.


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Likely not, but again, it really depends on any specific policies and procedures the employer may have in place. For instance, if an employee lies or misleads an employer when confronted about a workplace relationship and that employee is in a high position of trust or authority with the company, there may be grounds for termination. Many policies will stipulate that if you are in breach of a workplace policy, there may be grounds for disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal with dismissal being reserved for the rarest circumstances. An Office Romance Gone Wrong.


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  7. A notable case touching upon the issue of what may constitute just cause for dismissal as a result of an inappropriate workplace relationship is Cavaliere v. In Cavaliere, a senior-management employee was dismissed for cause without any notice or pay in lieu of notice for engaging in sexual relationships with two subordinates over several years.

    Legal issues associated with dating in the workplace

    The dismissed employee argued that the relationships were consensual, and that the employer had no grounds to dismiss him for cause. The court found that there were grounds for cause — relying on a line of cases that stand for the principal that managerial employees have an implied obligation in their employment contracts to ensure that the work place does not come poisoned due to sexual harassment, and to protect the employer from potential legal action for such harassment. This was the result even though the court noted that the relationships were, on their face, consensual.

    Other factors considered by the court when deciding that there were grounds for just cause included the fact that the dismissed employee and the two subordinates he engaged in relations with were married. The sexual activities often took place within the workplace.