You’re Damned if You or Your Managers Have Sex with Your Employees.

Posted: February 22, 2013 in Discrimination, Lawsuits, Sexual Harassment

At some point in time, every employer of a certain size will have to deal with employees who begin a romantic relationship.  In a perfect world, that would be none of an employer’s business, and would not be a basis for a lawsuit.  In the real world, a host of bad things can happen, especially when the relationship is between a supervisor and a subordinate.

The most obvious problem is that a subordinate may feel pressured to go on a date or enter a relationship.  He or she may feel that their job is on the line if they don’t.  That’s called quid quo pro (Latin for “this for that) sexual harassment.  It also translates to “big ass lawsuit.”  Especially in Massachusetts, which makes your company strictly liable for the actions of a supervisor.

Even if the relationship is completely consensual, you are still not in the clear.  First, the relationship may end badly, and the subordinate may engage in revisionist history and claim that he or she was pressured into the relationship.  They may even file suit to get back at the supervisor, especially if he’s an owner of the company.  Believe me, this happens.

Second, the other subordinates in the office will resent what they see is favoritism for sleeping with the boss.  They get the subtle message that to get ahead, you have to put out.  This can translate into a form of sexual harassment, for which your company will also be liable. 

What can you do?, you ask.  You can’t stop human nature.  I agree that you are never going to completely stop workplace relationships.  Nor should you try.  I’ve known plenty of people who met their spouses at work.  But you can and should protect yourselves.  You should have certain polices in place, especially for your supervisors.  You should also consider a Consensual Relationship Agreement (a/k/a a “Love Contract”). 

If your company wants to proactively address these issues, or if you are already faced with an employment relationship in your office, give me a call.  As always, this blog is information and not legal advice.

By Adam P. Whitney, 617-338-7000.

Advertisements
Comments
  1. I really like your blog.. very nice colors & theme.
    Did you design this websiite yourself or did you hire someone to do
    it for you? Plz eply as I’m looking to create my own blog
    and wouuld like to find out where u got this from.

    thanks

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s