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Workplace romance policies help control harassment

New Jersey companies that want to limit sexual harassment in the workplace may find it helpful to start by examining the relationships between their workers. Policies that define what constitutes acceptable intimate relationships and behaviors are also good places to lay out what sexual harassment entails and take a firm stance against misconduct.

Corporate romance policies vary in scope. Some forbid relationships between supervisors and their direct subordinates, and others include clauses that make openly-intimate behavior a no-no. Due to the hurdles associated with trying to enforce strict rules and the heightened prevalence of relationships in environments that demand professionals to spend more time working, however, most policies stop short of putting the kibosh on all relationships.

Romance policies may also take the form of agreements that employees must consent to. Rules like having to acknowledge and report the beginning and end of relationships or obey an established sexual harassment policy are common. Observers say that poorly-managed workplace relationships that end in less-than-amicable terms may lead to distractions in the workplace or even complaints of sexual harassment.

Regardless how individual employers decide to define what kind of behaviors are acceptable, modern employment law offers some clear guidelines on how issues like harassment ought to be handled. Professionals who were ignored when they attempted to report their complaints may find that their employers are legally liable for the pain, suffering and career setbacks they experienced as a result. Although relationships can muddle issues, the fact that workers were romantically involved or that romance policies existed doesn't give employers the right to disregard, ignore or otherwise fail to investigate claims of sexual harassment.

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