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Romance gone bad: What can we do to discourage relationships between employees?

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Q. Two of our employees are having a romantic relationship. One is married. The wife of the married employee came to our facility and demanded to speak with the other woman. We didn’t permit them to speak on the premises. Can we do anything to discourage employee romances or is that strictly off-limits?

A. Many companies have no-fraternization policies, which run the gamut from prohibiting romantic relationships between employees to prohibiting them only between employees in a supervisor-subordinate relationship.

Apart from avoiding conflict in the workplace, the policies can minimize the risk of future sexual harassment claims. Sometimes, when a workplace romantic relationship sours, one of the participants claims down the road that he or she suffered a hostile work environment as a result of the relationship or was coerced into the relationship.

If you decide to implement a no-fraternization policy, be sure to enforce it consistently.

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