Other employees who notice the relationship may claim a hostile work environment has been created by the ongoing relationship between a supervisor and his or her subordinate. Department of Corrections , the courts determined in the case of a prison warden who had sexual relationships with three of his subordinates that employers should be held responsible for a supervisor's actions in sexual harassment situations.
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According to the EEOC, "Harassment can include 'sexual harassment' or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. It is in this latter instance, where the relationships between supervisors and employees can become a problem in the workplace.
The laws are in place to protect both the employee as well as the employer or organization.
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- Laws About Relationships Between Employees & Supervisors.
Since employers can be held responsible in states such as California for the actions of their supervisors, there are regulations and requirements for sexual harassment training for all managers in an organization with fifty or more employees. Laws about relationships between supervisors and employees are those guidelines that fall under Title VII. Most often, in intimate relationships between a supervisor and an employee, the quid pro quo sexual harassment could appear to be in place. The supervisor may ask for sexual favors in exchange for a promotion, a transfer that the employee has requested, extra time off that is not granted to other employees, or workplace perks such as a better parking spot.
It is up to the company to train supervisors on the necessary methods of employee relations, treating all employees equally, and not showing favoritism to any employee.
Can an Employer Prohibit Employees from Dating One Another?
One thing that companies can do in order to protect the dynamics of the workplace and to foster a positive work environment is to adopt a company policy that prohibits dating between supervisors and employees. Also, requiring all managers to complete sexual harassment training as often as deemed necessary by the company's officers is a great tool. The relationship between a supervisor and an employee may not appear to be a problem at the time of the romance, or right after, but an employee can come back and claim sexual harassment even after the relationship has ended.
Is this age-old adage becoming extinct? If you believe the stats of new employees entering the workforce, it might seem so. But a lot of companies don't let the rank and file decide--they adopt policies that ban or limit workplace dating--all in the name of lowering liability.
Enforcing these policies can take their toll on a company. Just last month, Gary Friedman, the chief executive of Restoration Hardware, stepped down in the middle of the company's public offering. Friedman was not married, so there was no affair.
She didn't even work there anymore! Earlier this year, Best Buy's chief executive, Brian Dunn, stepped down after an investigation by the board discovered he had shown "extremely poor judgment" with a year-old female employee. A couple years ago, Hewlett-Packard's chief executive, Mike Hurd, resigned amid accusations of falsifying expense reports to hide a personal relationship with an independent contractor. As companies grow and add employees, you will often see signs of budding workplace relationships.
This can be especially true in high-growth companies that demand long work hours and tend to hire more single employees. When your routine is work-sleep-work, going out to date does not seem like a real option for many. According to the CareerBuilder survey, some industries are more prone to inter-office dating than others. Hospitality, Financial Services, Transportation and Utilities, Information Technology, and Health Services all topped the list as having higher than average office dating. As a business owner, you might ask: The legal issue is what I like to call the "amplification" of potential liability that always exists around the employer-employee relationship.
There will foreseeably be claims of favoritism, or even discrimination or harassment.
When a workplace romance sours, it can expose the company to increased liability, since the connection between alleged actors is easier to establish--essentially giving the plaintiff some good ammunition for his or her case. Relationships between supervisors and subordinates create even more potential problems.
- Know your rights when it comes to an office romance | Money | The Guardian.
- Sexual Harassment Guidelines?
In a better scenario, coworkers would find it easier to claim that an employee received preferential treatment from a supervisor he or she is dating. In a poorer scenario, the relationship would end badly, one of the employees could claim that the relationship was non-consensual, or that sexual harassment existed.
An employee could even make a case for unlawful retaliation if he or she receives a poor performance review from a former lover or if a co-worker receives a better evaluation from his or her boss.
Can an Employer Prohibit Employees from Dating One Another?
There are a few different ways to manage this liability. When it comes to workplace dating policies, here are a few basic options:. Generally, policies cover not only employees, but also contractors, vendors, suppliers, manufacturers, and the like. Essentially, any relationship between two people that could have a negative effect on the company if things sour, or if one party is able to improperly influence the other would fall under the policy. One last generally acceptable rule: Even if it does not violate a written policy, your boss the CEO or the board might not care, and view it as a lack of senior management acumen.