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“By turning a blind eye, the owner not only could be unaware of potential sexual harassment and a resulting lawsuit, but could be accused of willful ignorance, thus exacerbating the harm to the subordinate and the resulting injury award,” warns David Scher, principal attorney for the Employment Law Group.There is an inherent conflict between coherent office management and sexual relations.Put Your Policy in Writing A written policy won’t stop romance in the workplace, but it’s often helpful to have one.“Strict ‘no-fraternization’ polices don’t necessarily keep employees from dating; instead, they often drive this behavior underground.Most of the entanglements occurred between two peers, but 29 percent of workers who’d dated a colleague said it was someone who outranked them in the company’s hierarchy, and 16 percent admitted to dating their boss.
If the relationship exists, appropriate steps should be taken to ensure that decisions are made in an unbiased setting.All employees must complete the Annual Disclosure and Certification Form.The supervisor should review the disclosure form with the employee and confirm that no potential for conflict of interest exists.Individuals who have questions or are uncertain as to the application of this policy should speak in confidence to the Office of Human Resources or with an employee assistance counselor through Carebridge Corporation. Thirty percent of those who’d dated a co-worker married them.Supervisors involved in a consensual romantic or sexual relationship, in the context of supervision, must discuss the matter on a confidential basis with their own supervisor or with the Office of Human Resources to assess the implications for the workplace and make arrangements to ensure that employment-related decisions are made in an appropriate and unbiased setting.Although both employees involved in a consensual relationship are individually responsible for disclosure, a supervisor's failure to report such a relationship will be regarded as a serious lapse in the management of the workplace and grounds for appropriate disciplinary action, including termination (particularly in cases where bias or harassment has occurred in connection with a benefit).A supervisor must be regarded as trustworthy and fair for such an environment to exist.It is important to understand that, even when arrangements have been made to minimize conflicts of interest regarding particular employment-related decisions, it is necessarily more difficult for a supervisor to be fair when a close relationship exists with an employee.(If the couple has made their relationship public then you can talk to them about the issue together as a couple, if the couple is obviously interested in each other, but has not made their relationship public, talk to them separately.) “Start the conversation by sharing your good intentions.The last thing you want to do is make the office lovebirds feel like you are attacking or blaming them.