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Bryant Whitten, LLP

To acknowledge company's sexual harassment policy, some employers use love contract

Romantic trysts and relationships have long started and even endured at the workplace. In a survey about relationships at work conducted last year, as many as 18 percent of respondents said they dated a supervisor while more than 25 percent said they dated a subordinate. To protect themselves from potential fallout like workplace discrimination and sexual harassment, some employers are employing the use of love contracts.

Last year, almost 60 percent of respondents in a survey about relationships at work said they had participated in a relationship at work. At the same time, there were 11,364 charges of alleged sexual harassment filed with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last year. Companies concerned about the impact of romantic relationships formed at work are taking preventative steps. Some employers are asking their employees to report their relationships and sign a "love contract" that shows the relationship is voluntary and that each individual understands the company's sexual harassment policy.

Relationship policies are difficult to monitor and enforce and that is why as many as four out of 10 employers overlook the enforcement of their own policies on the subject. However, a policy that is hard to enforce may create legal issues in the future. Therefore some companies have turned to love contracts.

While probably not foolproof in court, a love contract can be a document an employer points to when a relationship ends and one of the individuals feels slighted in the workplace. One employment law expert says a love contract is another tool that can supplement the employer's normal policy.

Source: Forbes, "Would you sign a love contract . . . with your employer?" Jenna Goudreau, Feb. 14, 2012

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