Romance Policy

I am curious to see what other companies are doing regarding Office Romances.  Does anyone have a romance policy and if so what does it say?  Does the policy just say that professional behavior must be maintained at work or does the policy say that office romances won't be tolerated?  We have had a couple of situations prior to my arrival that resulted in one or both of the parties being terminated because they violated our code of conduct policy after a break up occurred. 


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  • Fraternization policies can depend on state law. Some states have more liberal views on behavior outside of the workplace and what the employer can use in relationship to the employee's behavior (especially if it happens outside of work).  I strongly suggest getting suggestions from HR professionals/employment attornies in your state since it is so very state specific.

    For our state (TX), we have the following:

    The Company desires to avoid misunderstandings, actual or potential conflicts of interest, complaints of favoritism, possible claims of sexual harassment, and the employee morale and dissension problems that can potentially result from romantic relationships involving managerial and supervisory employees in The Company or certain other employees in The Company.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />


    Accordingly, managers and supervisors are discouraged from fraternizing or becoming romantically involved with one another or with any other employee of The Company.  Additionally, all employees, both managerial and non-managerial, are discouraged from fraternizing or becoming romantically involved with other employees, when, in the opinion of The Company, their personal relationships may create a conflict of interest, cause disruption, create a negative or unprofessional work environment, or present concerns regarding supervision, safety, security, or morale.


    An employee involved with a supervisor or fellow employee should immediately and fully disclose the relevant circumstances to their supervisor so that a determination can be made as to whether the relationship presents an actual or potential conflict of interest.  If an actual or potential conflict exists, The Company may take whatever action appears appropriate according to the circumstances, up to and including transfer or discharge.  Failure to disclose facts may lead to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.


    All employees should also remember that The Company maintains a strict policy against unlawful harassment of any kind, including sexual harassment.  The Company will vigorously enforce this policy consistent with all applicable federal, state, and local laws.



  • we have a policy on professional conduct but we don't ban office romances specifically. the reality is that they are going to happen. i'd rather have a employee come to us if there is ever a problem than keep it secret out of fear of being fired.
  • Fraternization policies are hard to enforce in the face of freedom of association and Wagner Act protections of "concerted protected activity" which includes 2 or more covered employees meeting and discussing the terms and conditions of their work (such as pay).


    We require that such relationships be reported.  If one of them has a reporting relationship to the other, we let the couple decide which one of them will have a transfer and/or job change.

  • I am currently trying to negotiate with my CEO on this subject.  He implemented a non-fraternization policy a few years ago when 2 employees became involved (one of them married).  It disrupted the workplace so much, no work was getting done.  I agree that in that case it needed to be seriously addressed, but to ban it entirely and threaten termination seems a little harsh.
  • The policy may be unenforceable and, in the case of enforcement, actionable.  The District Court of Columbia overturned the NLRB this year, ruling that GuardMark LLC's antifraternization policy violated the NLRA.  There are some that have been upheld but, as far as I can tell, they are specific about location rather than person.
  • I think the best policy--and it's what we do-- is to have any co-workers who have a relationship disclose it to HR. Then HR --with input from the employees' supervisors-- look at each situation on a case-by-case basis. If the relationship is between a supervisor and one of his/her subordinates, we would separate them so that the subordinate no longer reported to the supervisor. But for the majority of situations involving co-workers, we would not prohibit it.  

    As regdonlop says, the reality is that they are going to happen. Speaking personally, I met my future wife at work. And, many of my closest friends are at my current job, which means it's the place I've formed some of my closest relationships. And if I was single now, I'd consider my workplace the best opportunity to meet someone, simply because of the fact I spend so much time here! 

    So I just think that outright prohibitions of co-worker relationships are outdated and believing that a policy prohibiting it is really going to keep people who are attracted to each other apart is rather delusional.

  • Actually, questions of dating relationships are pretty clear cut compared with friendships.  We had two women, a supervisor and one of her direct reports, who became extremely close friends (doing things together on weekends and going out to dinner and on vacations together with their husbands).  The other people in the department weren't crazy about the relationship (which they didn't hide) or this supervisor doing the friend's performance reviews; however, management did nothing because it didn't know how to handle the situation.  The supervisor finally left for a better job.
  • I think that when it comes to office romance you really can't keep employees from dating each other. It's a different story with supervisors and their direct reports - I would have a policy prohibiting that (we do). It's just asking for trouble not to.
  • We do as CTCarter's company.  We require disclosure and, in the case of supervisor/subordinate relationships, we move one of them.  We generally let them decide who gets moved (or demoted) to sufficiently reduce or remove the problem.
  • I think we need to distinguish between co-workers' healthy relationships and a supervisor/subordinate. Employers should not be in the place of trying to referee budding romance between co-workers. So long as everyone can handle a break-up in a mature and professional way, I have no problem with co-workers dating.
  • Hello country girl- I agree. I am drafting a policy about supervisors and their direct reports- that is something that is enforceable. I think you do need some policy to protect the company otherwise it is simply a matter of time before you are hit with some sort of lawsuit.
  • This has always been a tough one for me because I met my wife while we were working for the same employer so it's hard for me to counsel other on this issue.  One thing I do counsel others on is that "no means no".  That if you ask a co-worker out on a date and he or she says no, then it's not maybe, not I'll try again later, it's no.



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