button Vol. 7
No. 3


Overtime Is About to Change
line New Frontiers in Harassment
line Reminiscing About Workplace Romance
line Web Surfing at Work
line NLRB Using The Web
line Briefs

Braun Consulting News
News on Personnel, Labor Relations and Benefits

See our Archive Pages for Back Issues of Braun Consulting News!

Human Resources and labor relations Reminiscing About Workplace Romance

Graphic  Love Contracts, and Some Statistics
Graphic  No-dating Policies or Dating Contracts
Graphic  Court Case Ruling on Dating
Graphic  Updates and Developments
Graphic  A Lack of Written Policies
Graphic  What To Do About It
Graphic  Conclusions

Here at Braun Consulting Group we have been covering the topic of
"Romance in the Workplace" for the last four years.

In this issue of our newsletter we thought we might do a quick review of some of the key points of these earlier articles, and then take a brief look at the latest developments to see what might have changed.

Checkmark Graphic Love Contracts, and Some Statistics

Our first article about romance in the workplace was in the Winter 1999 issue of Braun Consulting News.

In that issue we gave some statistics from a study at that time, in which 59 percent said they had had a workplace romance at some point in their careers and another 17 percent said they had never dated a co-worker, but would.

We also noted the use of the so-called "love contracts", and concluded that "Appropriate and mandatory training of managers on the dangers and risks of romantic involvement with subordinates works even better than these "contracts"... but in certain cases they may help solve some "touchy" situations arising in the workplace."

To see the full article visit:

Checkmark Graphic No-dating Policies or Dating Contracts

In Spring of 2000 our next article covered no-dating policies and dating contracts. In this article we noted that the best method to deal with the problem of dating in the workplace is a strong sexual harassment policy and enforcement program.

It is critical for both parties to a consensual relationship to be made aware of their employment rights should the relationship come to an end while both persons continue to be employees.

"If a dating relationship exists between employees, the (sexual harassment) policy may suggest that the relationship be reported to the affected employees' managers so that an appropriate decision may be made in regard to avoiding any sense of real or perceived impropriety or conflicts of interest."

Under some circumstances this might be followed by a contract of some kind.

The article concluded "You should always consult with a professional in this field before implementing such policies."

To see the full article visit:

Checkmark Graphic Court Case Ruling On Dating

In our Spring 2001 issue of our newsletter we covered a district court ruling that found romantic dating does not constitute a "recreational activity" as defined in New York Labor Law.

After covering the details of this case, we came to this conclusion:

"This case is limited to the law of New York but we have included it as a reminder that the interpersonal relationships of employees continue to be a minefield for employers. Stay tuned as romance in the workplace appears to be a hot, steamy and romantic topic oft visited by employees, the EEOC and the courts. Normally in that order."

To see the full article visit:

For the complete text of the ruling just click here.

Checkmark Graphic Updates and Developments

The tenor of many of the articles and reports that we read in recent months is that "the old rules are vanishing", and "social mores are relaxing". There is a strong tone of inevitability about workplace romance, as well as a tendency to relate to changes in the "modern workplace" ... i.e. the demographics include more women, people are spending more time at work, and so on.

As an article in USA Today by Stephanie Armour states: "With more Generation X and Y employees in the workplace, attitudes are evolving. Nearly 70 percent of managers in their 30s and 40s say it's OK for employees to date, according to the AMA survey. That compares with 66 percent of managers in their 50s and 60s." This attitude seems pervasive.

(The full article is located at http://www.sltrib.com/2003/Feb/02142003/business/29340.asp)

Checkmark Graphic A Lack of Written Policies

Here is what a survey of 558 HR professionals by SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) and 663 corporate executives by the CareerJournal.com Web site found:

"Despite the fact that most executives would avoid a romantic relationship in the workplace, very few organizations have policies that formally govern workplace romance. Seventy-five percent of HR professionals and 59 percent of executives said their organizations had no policy on workplace romance. For those organizations that do have policies, 64 percent of HR professionals and 52 percent of executives said their organizations permitted, but discouraged, romance in the workplace."

And finally they note: "While workplace romance clearly presents challenges, it is also a success in many cases. A majority of HR professionals (66 percent) and corporate executives (57 percent) reported that over the past five years, employees who had been involved in a workplace romance got married. The survey also found that about a quarter of the organizations are offering training on ways to best manage workplace romances - a ten percent increase over the last three years."

(The full article is located at:

Checkmark Graphic What To Do About It

The following suggestions are offered as ways to approach this issue in an appropriate way.

1. Put into place and then train and disseminate a policy on dating and family relationships in the workplace. Enforce those policies evenly across the board. These policies should be reviewed by an appropriate professional to ensure that all of the state and federal laws are addressed in them. Braun Consulting Group can help you if you are developing or reviewing policies for dating and relationships in the workplace. Just send us an email through the 'contact us' link.

2. It is critical for both parties in a consensual relationship be made aware of their employment rights should the relationship come to an end while both persons continue to be employees. Often as the relationship ends emotions rise and good sense declines by people involved. This is when your harassment policy will save you.

3. If there is a "romance gone wrong" in your workplace, encourage employees to promptly report any harassment they may experience. Follow the guidelines and procedures in your written policies to the letter. Make sure that you don't retaliate against employees who file any sort of complaint related to a workplace romance, and don't allow any of your employees to retaliate in these situations either.

4. If you notice potential problems arising from a workplace romance, be alert and cautious and be careful to limit your involvement to areas that directly affect the job or company. Concern yourself only with the potential or actual effect of each specific relationship, not the motivation or people behind it.

5. Document everything.

6. Get help from a professional. That is what we can do for you here at Braun Consulting Group. We can put you on sure footing with confidence that you are taking the right steps to handle any situation appropriately.

You can contact us by just clicking here, and we will be glad to help assess your situation.

Checkmark Graphic Conclusions

The latest available reports all seem to point to the same things regarding romance in the workplace.

They tell us that workplace romance is pervasive, and inevitable.

They also tell us that there is a fine line in what we can do to deal with this situation, trying to protect our workplace while not overstepping our bounds and intruding into the personal lives of our employees or co-workers.

There seems to be an emerging trend that attitudes towards office romances are changing, and that they can be seen as "positive" in some cases, and work out well for all involved.

The changing nature of the workplace and the current workforce seems to be reflected in these studies.

While agreeing that workplace romance is pervasive and inevitable in the workplace, we must point out that the bottom line for most employers is keeping the organization and people in that organization functioning smoothly and efficiently. Like all other aspects of an effective workplace, preparedness and training will have the potential to pay high rewards in these cases... primarily by warding off a disaster.

Office romance is the place that a few dollars in of planning for the realities of life will save you millions in court ordered remedy.

4. Web Surfing at the Workplace. Next Page

The Contents of this News Letter are intended for general information
and should not be construed as legal advise or opinion.
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