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Of those reporting they had dated a co-worker, 35 percent said they kept their romance a secret.
Of course, my experience and the results of the survey begs the question: If 35 percent of the employees who have an office romance are keeping it secret and the majority (or 100% in my experience) of sexual harassment claims arise out of those secret romances, is there a benefit to having employees sign a Consensual Relationship Agreement.
For the reasons I’ll discuss below, I’m not sure that having two employees sign this type of agreement really mitigates the risk of a sexual harassment claim from one of the employees involved in the relationship all that much, but so we’re all on the same page before I share my thoughts, here is an example of a Consensual Relationship Agreement: We acknowledge that [Employer] is committed to providing a workplace that is free of harassment, discrimination, conflicts of interest, and favouritism, and that [Employer] will not tolerate unwelcome or offensive conduct, conduct that creates a hostile work environment, or sexual harassment.
We have read and understand [Employer’s] anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies.
Insights for Employers Over the course of my twenty-three year legal career, I have provided legal advice and counsel in well over two hundred claims of sexual harassment.
The social relationship does not violate [Employer’s] anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies, and participation in the social relationship has not been made a condition or term of employment.
should you hold hands in the lunch room or kiss in the hallway.
: Employers would be better served in focusing their efforts on creating a culture of compliance and respect in the workplace vs.
having employees engaged in an open office romance sign Consensual Relationship Agreements.
Unfortunately, human behavior dictates that there will always be employees engaged in secret office relationships.There may well be organizational benefits to having employees sign an agreement, but it is not a panacea of lawsuit prevention.