Dallas, TX, February 12, 2015 --(PR.com
)-- As Valentine’s Day approaches, Fisher & Phillips’ attorneys caution that cupid’s arrows that seem to fly around this time of year may leave employers wounded if they are not prepared to deal with an office romance that may go sour. While Valentine’s Day is widely celebrated in the workplace, it’s not the only time of the year an employer should be prepared to manage workplace romance. In fact, according to a 2014 survey by Vault.com, 56 percent of business professionals in the U.S. admit to taking part in an office romance. Of these participants, 20 percent of women report having dated a supervisor and 25 percent of men report having dated a subordinate. According to J. David Giddens, attorney in the Dallas office of management-side labor and employment law firm Fisher & Phillips, employers need to make sure their policies on interoffice-dating are clear and up-to date before blooms in the workplace.
“Most office romances tend to go awry, often leaving employers to pick up the pieces of an employee’s broken heart and quite possibly defending their selves against a sexual harassment claim,” said Giddens. “Employers should definitely take proactive steps to protect company interests before employees get swept away by the romance of Valentine’s Day, but they need also to look at the big picture.”
In order to avoid negative repercussions that may result from an office romance, Fisher & Phillips routinely recommends that employers:
· Write a Love Note to Employees -- Employers should add a section to the employee handbook detailing the company’s inter-office dating and harassment policies, if they have not already done so. If the policies are included, employers should review the content and update if needed. Giddens cautions that employers should consider including language discouraging dating between co-workers and forbidding it among supervisors and subordinates to temper potential drama in the workplace.
· Kiss and Tell -- Consider a policy that requires employees who are dating to disclose their relationship to a company official. Repercussions of failure to follow this policy also should be stated.
· Set a Date -- Require that employees who are involved in an inter-office relationship sign "love contracts," or documents stating that the relationship is consensual. This policy should be included in the employee handbook. In addition to requiring a contract, it also may outline appropriate and inappropriate workplace behavior for a couple.
Love may be in the air now, but will it last? Make sure your company is prepared to handle office romances before they turn into a date in the courtroom.