Workplace dating ethics

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Given the number of hours we spend at our jobs, it’s not surprising that many love matches have been made in the workplace. But even if they do, the potential problems employers face from romances at work should not be ignored.

In a 2006 survey published by the Society for Human Resource Management and Career, 80% of human resources professionals and 60% of employees polled said that there should not be a romance between a supervisor and subordinate.

Since it is highly unlikely to appease everyone in any given workplace, the utility theory serves to satisfy needs of the many over the few, and may even be construed as a form of Darwin's survival of the fittest.

The intrinsic value of good will — behavior that is not dependent upon an outcome to justify its occurrence — is the basis of deontological theory.

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It’s inevitable that co-workers may date one another, but workplace relationships bring potential for increased employer liability in harassment and retaliation claims, especially for a relationship that forms between a supervisor and a subordinate.

Please Note: The example linked to above should only be viewed as a general demonstration of a “consensual relationship agreement” or “love contract,” and not a document for official use.

These agreements, if used, should be drawn up by a labor and employment law attorney familiar with the relevant jurisdiction’s sexual harassment laws and laws protecting employee privacy.

Expectations should be clearly stated during regular, periodic sexual harassment trainings.

This ensures that company policies, expectations, and guidelines are directly and clearly communicated to your employees, and there is no confusion regarding issues of dating in the workplace or sexual harassment.

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