Policies About Personal Relationships

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about dating policies:

Can your employer require that you not date anyone you work with? My employer has not done so. It is something that someone at work was questioning. Could there be such a policy because they do not approve how employees behave at work? Some teenagers/young adult workers “hook up” with one another and then make co-workers uncomfortable.

Signed, Interested

Dear Interested:

Your employer has no such policy. Can an employee make a no fraternizing-dating policy? Yes. Are there such policies? I know of none, but I’m sure there are just as there are policies of school systems forbidding teachers from sex with students and prison guards from sex with inmates. In the past more than now, nepotism rules meant that spouses couldn’t work in the same workplace or at least not in the same department. Those have pretty much are gone, but still are a practical concern.

Type in “dating” or “sex” or “sexual harassment” in the search engine of our Archives and you will access many questions about sexual activity within the work setting. Now, can a company and its management prevent attraction among its employees? No. Can it make a policy of no flirting and sexual contact on its premises? Yes. Can that be enforced? Yes, to the extent that management is watchful. Since most employers can hire and fire for a good reason or no reason, employees who break this policy can be fired.

If employees are found to date outside of the work site, can an employer fire them? Yes, but I think where this firing has been taken to court, the dating or co-habitating couple have won. Our site does not promise legal expertise or give legal advice; therefore, if you genuinely want or need to know, check with a labor attorney.

Since you are just interested, my advice is to:

1. Realize that it is natural for young people and older to be sexually attracted.

2. Accept incidental flirting and conversation among/between those employees.

3. Managers and supervisors can emphasize that employees are hired and expected to tend to business and that they are to avoid flirting and physical contact within the work setting.

4. Employers are responsible for policies and practices to prevent and correct sexual harassment/discrimination and a sexually hostile work environment–that often means training.

5. Wise managers so engage all employees in producing and delivering high quality performance that it becomes their ongoing concern and commitment.

6. Managers who fail to so engage their employees should expect to have a low and or careless performance and probably problems of sexual “messing around” and harassment. You and your co-workers, who are uncomfortable, can voice your displeasure to your superiors. That complaint will be more effective if it is focused on how flirting or more interfere with performance.

Also it will be more effective if you can help bosses involve and engage those who are targeted as not attending to business. How that is accomplished is not by ordering, bribing or begging. Rather it is by making the goals of the job and the operation clear and inviting. It is by thinking and acting as teams. It is by making visible what is high quality and appreciated by internal and external customers.

It is by linking performance of work groups to pay and benefits. It is accomplished by good communication–in day to day needed huddles and one-to-one conversation and encouragement of those employed.Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. I’m sure these thoughts are more than you expected. They are for you and your co-workers to think about or reject. Please feel free to let me know if these thoughts make sense and how they might apply to your workplace.

William Gorden