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Valentine’s Day and Romance in the Workplace
February 27, 2019
Parsons Behle & Latimer Legal Briefings


Now that we have survived Valentine’s Day, it is time to give some thought to your company’s policies on romance in the workplace. Romance in the workplace has always caused headaches for HR, but the #MeToo movement has upped the stakes. Companies cannot afford to ignore the possibility of romance.  It is better to think about it before it happens and have good policies in place. But there is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Each company has to decide what policies make sense for that company’s culture. 

Some companies are rather tolerant about workplace romances. But even these companies should have policies prohibiting harassment and advising employees of how to report unwanted romantic interest. These companies may also consider prohibiting romance between direct reports. If a supervisor has a romantic relationship with someone she supervises, lots of problems can result.  If the relationship sours, the subordinate may claim that he was harassed or retaliated against after the relationship ended. Even if the relationship is successful, others on the team may claim that there is unfair treatment. 

On the other end of spectrum, some companies have little tolerance for workplace romances and may ban them altogether. This is not workable in most companies but may make sense in very small companies or where romance could really damage morale. 

Most companies are somewhere in between these extremes. These companies may adopt a number of policies including:

  • Anti-harassment policies (including training)
  • Forbidding romances between direct reports
  • Forbidding romances on the same team even if not between direct reports
  • Forbidding extramarital affairs
  • Requiring “love contracts” or romance disclosures. In these situations, employees in a relationship must sign a document acknowledging that their relationship is consensual, agreeing to tell HR if there is every harassment or other problems, and agreeing to act in a professional manner.
  • Prohibiting romance on company property (no PDA) or on company computers
  • Prohibiting romance with customers
  • Prohibiting romance with competitors
  • Prohibiting gossip

If your company needs help drafting workplace romance policies or with sexual harassment training, please contact Christina Jepson at 801-536-6820 or cjepson@parsonsbehle.com.  

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