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Should you prohibit office dating?

Mar 20, 2024 | Employment litigation

It is not illegal for coworkers to date. However, business owners may decide to ban office dating in their personal conduct policies. Employees should be informed of such a policy at the very beginning, so they can decide if they want to take the job and abide by it.

Understandably, these types of bans are not very popular with employees. So what are some reasons why you may or may not want to consider instituting such a regulation?

Potential drawbacks

The problem with banning office relationships is that people will often just carry them out anyway. The ban doesn’t work or prevent relationships. It just forces coworkers to sneak around and keep their relationships secret. If they are found out, then one person may even decide to leave the company. This means that prohibiting the relationship could cost your business talent if the employees put their relationships before your company.

Potential benefits

That said, there are some very serious reasons to consider banning office relationships – or at least setting up regulations for how they should be handled, such as declaring them to HR. For one thing, you want to avoid the appearance of sexual harassment or a quid pro quo scenario, so it may be wise to prohibit dating between lower-level employees and executives, supervisors or managers. Prohibiting relationships may also prevent awkward scenarios and make your workforce more productive, but the biggest benefit is that you reduce the odds of sexual harassment allegations at your company.

Employers need to carefully consider how their policies affect the stability of their business moving forward, and they need to know exactly what legal steps to take.