Employees can give love a bad name, expert says

With Valentine's Day near, Crowe and Dunlevy attorney Adam Childers offers cautions regarding workplace romances.
Oklahoman Modified: February 6, 2014 at 9:00 pm •  Published: February 5, 2014

Q&A with Adam Childers

Romance in workplace can pose hazards for workers, employers

Q: What policies should employers consider regarding workplace romances?

A: Workplace relationships can lead to claims of harassment, discrimination and retaliation, which means employers would be prudent to implement and enforce policies that are designed to stop these problems in their tracks. For starters, it's a great idea to have a sexual harassment policy that both defines the kind of verbal and non-verbal conduct that constitutes sexual harassment and informs employees how to report this kind of behavior. The policy also should assure employees of non-retaliation for making a harassment complaint. Companies may want to even prohibit fraternization between employees. At the least, a policy forbidding a consensual romantic relationship between a supervisor and a subordinate should be considered. As an alternative, you can enforce a policy that requires a supervisor who's dating a subordinate to be removed from his or her line of supervision. Finally, at higher levels, companies can use “love contracts” to spell out the obligations of the paramours to report the end of the relationship and affirm its consensual and non-harassing nature.

Q: How does the Supreme Court's new definition of “supervisor” impact relationships?

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by Paula Burkes
A 1981 journalism graduate of Oklahoma State University, Paula Burkes has more than 30 years experience writing and editing award-winning material for newspapers and healthcare, educational and telecommunications institutions in Tulsa, Oklahoma...
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