Q. We have two employees who started a 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. Do we have any potential for liability in a situation like this, especially if it escalates? Can we do anything to discourage employee romances or is this strictly off-limits? —C.R., California
A. First, you did the right thing by avoiding what would have been an ugly situation in your workplace. Office romances can create big problems and potential liability, especially when they involve a supervisor and a subordinate.
Recognizing these issues, many companies have adopted anti-fraternization policies. Some go as far as establishing a complete ban on office relationships. We think this goes too far. Instead, you'd be wise to prohibit such relationships between employees who work in the same department or facility, or who hold a supervisor/subordinate relationship. Tailor the scope of a policy to your company's business needs.