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It’s also a good idea to ask both parties to re-read and re-sign the sexual harassment policy at the same time. Having a consensual dating policy (or a “dating/fraternization policy,” as some call it) and making people sign it sends a strong message to the courts, should you ever get sued.

Many people ridicule these policies, particularly the clause asking the parties to tip off HR when the relationship ends (“Can you imagine anybody actually doing that? And it sends a reminder to the two lovebirds, who believe their love will never end and are blind to the problems their relationship might cause in the workplace.

Let’s look at the surveys: Rather than dwell on the contradictions, let’s talk about the complexities of boss/subordinate dating. Employees who date bosses immediately fall into a "protected class," which means that any adverse action taken against them provides traction for a lawsuit. Romantic attraction is a powerful force that trumps good judgment in the best of us; if you ban boss/subordinate dating, most people will simply hide the relationship.

The most common accusation you hear in court is something like, "I dumped him, so he retaliated against me by firing me," or "he denied me a promotion," or "he cut back my overtime." We've seen plenty of other cases where a spurned boss persists and ends up provoking a sexual harassment lawsuit. You could argue that your exposure to lawsuits is even greater if the relationship is clandestine.

There is California precedent that suggests that employers can prohibit some types of workplace dating relationships.In the California case, employees accused a boss a "paramour favoritism" (i.e., giving promotions and other favors to women he'd had intimate relationships with).Think about that: The threat of a lawsuit normally is limited to one of the two participants in a workplace romance; this case means a lawsuit could come from any employee who feels that he or she has been passed over for a promotion, denied a plum assignment, had overtime hours cut back, etc.A review of the policy documents, plus a friendly chat with HR about the perils of boss/subordinate dating, could significantly reduce your risk of getting sued.The safest solution The mandatory transfer policy makes a lot of sense (despite the fact that only 7% in our survey have implemented it).

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