Love Stinks

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Strategies and Tips for Handling Workplace Romance Issues

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Love Stinks

  1. 1. Love Stinks:Strategies and Tips for Handling Workplace Romance Issues Chris W. McCarty, Esq. Lewis, King, Krieg & Waldrop Knoxville – (865) 546-4646 cmccarty@lewisking.com
  2. 2. The Plan1. The Facts2. The Strategy3. The Policy
  3. 3. The Facts: 2006 SHRM PollIn November 2005, the Society for Human Resource Management(SHRM) and CareerJournal.com, a Website of The Wall StreetJournal, jointly conducted an online poll to find out more aboutworkplace romance in organizations. The so-called Romance Pollwas sent to 3,000 randomly selected members of SHRM’s 200,000member roll. They compared responses to a previous poll andpublished the results in 2006.WHAT DO YOU THINK THEY FOUND?
  4. 4. The Facts: 2006 SHRM PollHow many people admit to a current/previous workplace romance?A) 10%B) 20%C) 30%D) 40%
  5. 5. The Facts: 2006 SHRM PollHow many employers possess a written workplace romance policy?A) 5%B) 18%C) 37%D) 62%
  6. 6. The Facts: 2006 SHRM PollOf employers with romance policies, how many ban office relationships?A) 7%B) 31%C) 57%D) 75%
  7. 7. The Facts: 2006 SHRM PollWhy do a lot of employers ban or discourage workplace romances?
  8. 8. The Strategy*Questions to ask when deciding your position on workplace romance Do you have a Do you have a Do you worry problem with it? history of it? about it? What about a legal Should you worry problem? about it? SHRM Relationships Would you and/or found that 19% of between others enforce a policy? office relationships supervisor and end in sexual subordinate can harassment lead to big Title VII claims. issues. If “Yes” to all or most… Then you need an workplace romance policy.
  9. 9. The PolicyTechnically, a policy dealing with workplaceromances is called an… Antifraternization Policy.
  10. 10. The Policy Antifraternization Policy Goals:1) Minimize the most common breeding ground forsexual harassment claims: previous consensualconduct.2) Eliminate sexual favoritism or perceived sexualfavoritism.3) Prevent decreased productivity and demoralization experienced by third-party employees. (a.k.a., the ones without workplace romances)
  11. 11. The Policy Common AntiFraternization Policies:• Total Ban: – Bans and sets forth serious consequences for any interoffice relationships.• Supervisor/Subordinate Ban: – Bans and sets forth serious consequences for the most dangerous relationships.• Allowed After Transfer: – Allows relationships to continue if employees agree to transfer out of similar departments or supervisor/subordinate roles.• Allowed After Contract: – Allows relationships to continue if employees agree to sign a “Love Contract” (i.e., admitting in writing to consensual nature).
  12. 12. The Policy The Love Contract: Pros: Cons:• Encourages relationship • The ever-present slippery slope;disclosure; • Fails to address third-party• Eliminates he said, she said; effects;• Likely admissible in court. • Creates a duress argument.
  13. 13. The Summary• Are workplace romances common? – Yes. 40% of employees admit to workplace romances.• Can you limit/ban workplace romances? – Yes. But the necessary policy requires commitment.• Do antifraternization policies ever vary? – Yes. An employer’s policy should match its goals.
  14. 14. The Questions ??? Chris W. McCarty, Esq. Lewis, King, Krieg & Waldrop Knoxville – (865) 546-4646 cmccarty@lewisking.comwww.linkedin.com/in/chriswmccarty

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