Claim your Copy of
Employee Orientation: How to Energize, Integrate, and Retain Your Newest Hires
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 

Got a ‘No Dating’ Policy? It’s Not Enough

California Discrimination
by Jennifer Carsen

Having a policy in place that forbids workplace romance is a great idea. In theory, anyway.

“We have a strict ‘no-dating of coworkers’ policy. That prevents harassment claims for sure.”

Most experts say, “Good luck with that.” It’s next to impossible to prevent co-worker dating. But that doesn’t mean you can ignore it. Managers should be aware of the potential for harassment, especially if either party has any business power over the other.

Some companies ask employees to reveal relationships so the company can determine whether there is any potential harassment. (Unfortunately, with subordinate dating, there is always that potential — because once a couple breaks up, and then something negative happens to the subordinate, he or she can always claim it was because of the breakup.)

Here are some other “famous last words” in the harassment arena.

“As long as people don’t complain about my kidding and my pinching, I don’t have to worry.”

It is true that behavior must be unwelcome to be harassment. Unfortunately, in court people who seemed to be accepting or encouraging the behavior may tell the jury that they had to go along it so they could keep their job and feed their young children. That’s not going to end well for the company.

That’s why supervisors and managers need to be trained to be proactive in these situations. If behavior might be making people uncomfortable, better to stop it than to run the risk of a big lawsuit.

“I’ve been seeing one of my salespeople, but we both enjoy it — it’s not a boss thing, it’s a love thing.”

There’s no harassment here assuming both participants do enjoy it. But, again, many relationships come to an end. When they do, if there is ever any negative action taken against the subordinate, the subordinate is likely to cry harassment.

Furthermore, there’s a side issue to contemplate. In this scenario, co-workers will tend to believe that the subordinate in a relationship with the boss is getting special treatment.

“Only supervisors can harass.”

Generally, only supervisors or other high-ranking managers engage in tangible employment action harassment, but any co-worker can create a hostile environment.

“Our receptionist is attractive, and the delivery people tend to tease a little — well, a lot, actually — but they’re not employees, so there’s nothing I can do about them.”

If you allow a hostile environment to continue, even if created by an outsider, you are condoning harassment, and that is not going to play well in court. Management must take action by talking to the outsiders (and if necessary, to their management, requesting that they be reassigned).

Unpleasant Situation? Definitely!

Dealing with sexual harassment is a major hassle. You need to research the law, generate legally correct policies, write training materials, follow complex procedures for complaints, and fully document every step. Just gathering the resources for your program could take days.

Until now, that is.

We’re pleased to introduce BLR’s Sexual Harassment Essentials Kit. It’s all you need to create and implement a program, in one instantly available — and remarkably affordable — download package. Your satisfaction is 100 percent guaranteed.

The kit includes:

  • National compliance analysis
  • State-by-state compliance analysis
  • 4 sample sexual harassment policies
  • Sample harassment complaint form
  • 2 sexual harassment checklists
  • 2 sets of PowerPoint presentation slides with leader’s notes (one for employees and one for supervisors)
  • Quizzes for each PowerPoint
  • Training exercises for each PowerPoint
  • Handouts for each PowerPoint

Written in the plain-English, non-legalese style that has won us multiple awards… and thousands of satisfied customers. And it’s instantly downloadable in PDF format! No shipping cost or wait for delivery.

Order your copy today.

Download your free copy of How To Survive an Employee Lawsuit: 10 Tips for Success today!

SHARE THIS ARTICLE

1 Comment

Share Your Comments on This Tip

If you have comments about this tip and want to post them on this page to share your thoughts with other California Employer Daily readers, simply enter your comments below. NOTE: Your name will appear on any comments posted.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Chris C        
    May 17, 2011 7:21 am

    I think that one of the most important but overlooked issues with supervisor-subordinate relationships lies in this statement from the article: “In this scenario, co-workers will tend to believe that the subordinate in a relationship with the boss is getting special treatment.” Unfortunately, even if the participants in the relationship are doing everything right, separating working relationship from romance, etc., a perceived notion of unfairness or preferential treatment can persist. I even recall a court case where female co-workers of a subordinate male (in a relationship with a female supervisor) sued the employer because the male received preferential treatment based on sex. (I don’t think they won, but who needs similar trouble?)

    The point being that there are variables outside of the control of the supervisor and subordinate who are in such a relationship, which is why its hard to argue against the idea that one should be transferred to another department if they are going to date.

  2. Chris C        
    May 17, 2011 7:21 am

    I think that one of the most important but overlooked issues with supervisor-subordinate relationships lies in this statement from the article: “In this scenario, co-workers will tend to believe that the subordinate in a relationship with the boss is getting special treatment.” Unfortunately, even if the participants in the relationship are doing everything right, separating working relationship from romance, etc., a perceived notion of unfairness or preferential treatment can persist. I even recall a court case where female co-workers of a subordinate male (in a relationship with a female supervisor) sued the employer because the male received preferential treatment based on sex. (I don’t think they won, but who needs similar trouble?)

    The point being that there are variables outside of the control of the supervisor and subordinate who are in such a relationship, which is why its hard to argue against the idea that one should be transferred to another department if they are going to date.