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Have a no-dating policy at your workplace? If the answer is “no,” it may be time to consider one. While some office romances may seem innocent enough, trouble can follow an ugly breakup between co-workers. That’s why it pays to have clear rules in place.

For starters, consider banning dating between supervisors and anyone in their chain of command. Supervisor/subordinate romances are a dangerous mix, exposing the company to potential sexual harassment and sex discrimination lawsuits.

While it’s hard to stop the fraternization of co-workers, you should clearly outline the standards of behavior you expect at work.

If you hear about a breakup, incidents of domestic violence or other problems associated with an office affair, make sure any work-related problems are handled professionally. Any ensuing discussion should focus strictly on work performance and rules.

Recent case:  Stacey Griffin and her former boyfriend worked for De Lage Landen Financial Services even after they broke up. By all accounts, the ex was—in the words of the court—“a miscreant,” who assaulted Griffin at her home and was short with her at work. Griffin was deemed no prize either, referred to as “an unprofessional employee with a short temper.”

When Griffin was discharged for poor performance, she charged sex discrimination and claimed her ex had urged her employer to give her poor evaluations. Fortunately, the company could show that her poor performance reviews pre-dated the assault and alleged attempts by the boyfriend to taint Griffin’s reputation. Plus, Griffin’s own behavior didn’t help her case and had been carefully documented by her supervisors. (Griffin v. De Lage Landen Financial Services, No. 06-1090, 3rd Cir., 2007) 

 
 
 

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