ILMA Compoundings - May 2020 - 35

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company management has no way of
monitoring a relationship, bad things
can happen. A breakup can lead to a
costly discrimination charge.
REPORTING RELATIONSHIPS
If you can't stop people from fraternizing, you can take steps to protect your
organization. "What I think is a better
policy is to require disclosure when
a workplace relationship develops,"
said Gary Phelan, shareholder of
Mitchell & Sheahan P.C. in Stratford,
Connecticut. "That way it's out in the
open, and there can be a discussion
with both parties to make sure the
relationship is clearly between two
consenting adults and is not a product
of any sort of unwelcome conduct."
A policy can state that if anyone in
a supervisory role dates a subordinate,
both parties are obligated to bring
the relationship to the attention of
a designated individual. This may
be someone in the human resources
department who can monitor the relationship to obviate any favoritism in
which the subordinate receives inflated
performance reviews or more attractive

assignments, and also to assure no sexual harassment occurs down the road if
the relationship should end.
Additionally, the employer might
neutralize the direct-reporting
relationship by transferring one of the
involved individuals. The larger the
organization and the more departments available, the easier this is. At
even the largest employer, though,
it would be impossible to move a
subordinate outside a top executive's
command chain.
LOVE CONTRACTS
Attorneys often advise business clients
to have romantically involved parties
sign written agreements that their
relationships are consensual, that they
understand they are required to act professionally at all times in the workplace
and that, in the event the relationships
end, they have the duty to disclose that
fact to the company. Well-constructed
agreements can help defend the business against lawsuits - not only for
sexual harassment, but also for invasion
of privacy when a workplace relationship needs to be investigated.

If signed policies go a long way
toward protecting an employer's
bottom line from the costly effects of
office dating, they are not a panacea.
Lawsuits and conflicts of interest
can result even when employees date
people outside their chain of command or they fraternize with outside
parties such as vendors, independent
contractors and consultants. "You
have to be careful about all of these
contingencies," said Nobile. "Employers need bigger pairs of eyes these days
to see what is going on."
And Nobile's advice for management-level people looking to start
a workplace relationship? "The best
practice is to just say no."
Perry is an award-winning journalist and
director of EditorialCalendar.Net. He is based
in New York City.

This syndicated content has been
edited from its original form to fit
Compoundings' style.

35


http://www.azelis.com/americas http://www.monsonco.com http://www.EditorialCalendar.Net

ILMA Compoundings - May 2020

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