Flaster Greenberg Labor & Employment attorney Adam Gersh was recently quoted extensively in a South Jersey Magazine article focused on workplace romance and what it means for employers when couples decide to ignore the warning signs that they should never mix business with pleasure.
The reporter indicates that while some employers are more relaxed when it comes to workplace relationships than others, interoffice romance can be tricky to navigate.
Gersh indicates that “for some businesses, this means a prohibition on romantic relationships with subordinates and, for others, it means a disclosure policy so that safeguards can be put in place. Some of those safeguards include acknowledgment that the relationship is consensual and protections against favoritism and unfair treatment of other employees,” adding, “There is no one-size-fits-all-policy, but businesses should consider the potential risks of such a relationship before it develops and institute policies that will help protect the business.”
More importantly, those policies can combat risks that could arise if a relationship ends on a bad note. As Gersh explains, those risks include “harassment by a jilted lover and unfair treatment complaints from employees who are not part of the relationship. Moreover, the duty of loyalty may become skewed. For example, an employer has to be concerned if a manager is scheduling business travel because it’s needed or because it’s a chance for a lovers’ getaway on the company’s dime.”
While some companies choose to ban interoffice relationships completely, Gersh advises that could do more harm than good. “That type of policy may lead to efforts to conceal a relationship such that safeguards that would otherwise offer some kind of protections are not put into place,” he explains, adding, “Clear communications and disclosure can help set a strong set of ground rules.”
Recent studies show that when handled properly by both the employer and employees, a workplace relationship can actually help boost productivity and make the employees overall more engaged in their day-to-day tasks.