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It can be tricky. Consider how flexible your policy should be. The policy should define if and when these activities are to be considered "dating. But what happens when the boss finds out? An employee could rule against dating coworkers make a case for unlawful retaliation if he or she receives a poor performance review from a former lover or if a co-worker receives a better evaluation from his or her boss.

If you haven't, then the odds are that you know someone who has.

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And, if you're more interested in keeping it light, it's always more fun to talk about, well, anything besides work. Other employers opt for policies that do not ban dating, but instead merely discourage it. Does your company strictly prohibit relationships of any kind?

This alone can be enough to avoid some issues, but it stops short of being an actual prohibition. So here it goes again: The truth is, office romances are tricky and generally not recommended.

As an alternative, some employers require that employees enter a "consensual relationship agreement. However, the EEOC states that simple favoritism toward a lover or spouse, or even a friend, is not discriminatory. If not, maybe that's something to consider. Seats are extremely limited.

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Some employers limit the prohibition to only those relationships in which one romantic partner has a role of authority over the other. When it comes to dating a coworker, there's one general rule: For example, in a company where the management is mostly male, a rigid policy that prohibits co-ed socialization will likely have a negative impact on the career opportunities of the women who are excluded.

There are greater questions of invasion of privacy for governmental employers and employers who must prove "just cause" for termination. Also, it's entirely unprofessional to complain about your personal relationships at work, whether you're dating a colleague or not.

The agreement also confirms and documents that the relationship is consensual and voluntary. Penalties for Violations of Policy: Additionally, if a regular relationship ends, it could result in a situation where one former partner has a claim of harassment against the other.

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After disclosure, the employer can take steps to minimize problems. Such an anti-fraternization policy could restrict dating or socializing, but defining such relationships can be difficult when employees go out for lunch or drinks together or socialize as a group.

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The employers may fear:. The difficulty for the employer is proving that the relationship was consensual. Get on the same page. A less restrictive policy that a lot of companies have is one preventing nepotism--prohibiting spouses or relatives from working at the same company or preventing employees from supervising related coworkers. Quid pro quo sexual harassment, in which employment benefits such as promotions and raises are offered in exchange for sexual favors, is illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of A relationship between a supervisor and a subordinate can create a problem if the superior shows favoritism to his sweetheart.

Her extensive rule against dating coworkers included serving as editor of a business education magazine for the McGraw-Hill Book Company.

The biggest fear is a sexual harassment lawsuit arising from either:. An employer who is concerned about possible problems arising from co-workers dating could develop an across-the-board ''no dating'' policy.

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However, they must be thoughtfully created and administered with care. Some employers simply require disclosure of relationships. Think about your business justification for imposing a consensual relationship policy.

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