Some employees find a romantic partner in the workplace. Employees already share a lot in common working in the same area and may have to collaborate on several projects. Yet, employers may not be very receptive to their employees dating one another. However, can they prevent employees from dating? The answer depends on the company and the policies it has in place. In some cases, employers will have workplace dating policies to avoid future liability should the romantic relationship dissolve and become contentious, possibility even leading to sexual harassment claims.
Some of the main reasons that your employees may object to you dating in the workplace include:
- Efficiency can fall when employees focus on pursuing one another rather than the tasks at hand, along with coworkers being distracted by the ongoing courtship.
- Protection issues could arise if the relationship becomes turbulent.
- Sexual favoritism could be an issue if one of the employees is in a management position or power of authority.
- Sexual harassment claims could arise if one of the partners is in a supervisory position.
- Damage to reputation can occur, particularly between a supervisor and a subordinate.
Having a Safe Work Environment
Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 safeguards employees from discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion and/or sex. Employers need to provide a safe and discrimination-free environment, which also means that favoritism could be misconstrued as discrimination. Extreme sexual favoritism in the workplace can also lead to a hostile work environment.
It should be noted that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) states that workplace relationships could be viewed as sexual favoritism and defines the limits between what is allowed and what is prohibited. The type of sexual favoritism they are referring to occurs when there is a sexual or romantic relationship between two employees with the courtship benefiting the partners in the romance, while also adversely affecting a third party’s employment. The EEOC states that favoritism could cultivate a hostile work environment.
Employers should have clear policies on dating in the workplace and have appropriate rules for reporting violations. Employers can also restrict this type of sexual favoritism on the job by enforcing rules that restrict dating between supervisors and their subordinates. If an employee feels that they are in a hostile work environment due to extreme sexual favoritism, they may have legal options available to them.
Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Can Help You if You Are Working in a Hostile Work Environment
If your employer is not abiding by policies and you feel you are in a hostile work environment due to sexual favoritism, our knowledgeable Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. can help. Call us at 215-574-0600 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.