Dating in the workplace: Do employers have the right to regulate the social activities of their employees?

Essay by cavepilotUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, February 2004

download word file, 5 pages 5.0

Many couples' meet in the workplace because that is where many people spend the majority of their waking hours. The workplace is also a great place to get to know other people that may have similar interests. However, there is a catch. Rapid increases in sexual harassment lawsuits by employees have left employers scrambling to protect themselves. Therefore, workplace protections against sexual harassment have grown much stronger in recent years. What types of situations are employers are attempting to protect themselves from? Here are a few examples: When a relationship ends, if one member of the former couple continues to pursue the other member at work after a breakup to try to "patch things up". The employer can be found liable for sexual harassment. When a supervisor dates a subordinate, it is very difficult to prove that the relationship was consensual because of the differential in power. When public displays of affection occur, even among consenting adults who are dating each other.

This can create an atmosphere that encourages other employees to engage in conduct that can constitute sexual harassment. There are three potential solutions for employers to address their potential exposure to a sexual harassment claim arising from workplace dating. Ignore it and hope that no one claims harassment, adopt a policy prohibiting dating, or adopt a policy that requires disclosure of the relationship.

Ignoring a potential problem and hoping a negative situation does not arise is the first solution. This solution would be popular with those who prefer using utilitarian ethics. Utilitarian ethics state that the best decision is the one that benefits the majority of the people. Another benefit employers enjoy by implementing this type of policy is the reduction of confrontational situations with employees over workplace romances. If a problem does occur, most companies will address...