An employer may violate an employee's right to privacy by regulating the employee's private off-work relationships.
The employer is most at risk when trying to investigate and enforce a "no dating" policy by hiring a private investigator to follow the employee around, secretly reviewing an employee's voice mail, or listening in on an employee's office phone line. Consensual Relationship Agreements As an alternative, some employers require that employees enter a "consensual relationship agreement." The agreement, signed by both employees and management, provides that the employees will not allow the relationship to interfere with or impact the work environment.
If done properly, a consensual relationship agreement will make it more difficult for an employee to claim that the relationship was "unwelcome." In addition, the agreement will create a question about why the employee did not seek to stop the harassment by reporting it to management.When deciding whether to impose a consensual relationship policy, and evaluating what form of policy to impose, the following are some important considerations: Impact: Consider whether consensual relationships have a positive or negative impact on the morale of your workplace.Penalties for Violations of Policy: A policy that prohibits a supervisor from dating a subordinate must also describe the penalty imposed if the policy is violated.Because men often hold more senior positions in a company, a policy that always penalizes the subordinate (e.g.There are greater questions of invasion of privacy for governmental employers and employers who must prove "just cause" for termination.
Flexibility: Consider how flexible your policy should be.
In addition, any policy that prohibits co-worker dating should have an exception for employees who are married to one another.
Definitions: A "no dating" policy must describe what "dating" is.
by requiring termination or transfer) may create sexual discrimination liability.
When enforcing a "no dating" policy, the employer must be careful to penalize both sexes equally.
For example, morale will likely suffer if a company that employs many teenage or college-age employees also imposes a "no dating" policy.