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Such an agreement can help protect employers and employees in the event that the relationship later turns sour. Relationships between co-workers will inevitably happen, no matter the industry. Breakups within your team can lead to drama, tension at work, and, in some cases, allegations of harassment or misconduct against one party. The logical answer for some employers is to avoid the issue altogether by prohibiting dating between colleagues. The effect of such a policy is to have team members dating in secret, with you out of the loop.


Working in the same place, experiencing the same challenges - it's hardly surprising that coworkers hang out, date, sleep together and even marry each other.

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In the wake of the metoo movement, however, many companies see employee hook-ups as a disaster waiting to happen. Some businesses go pre-emptive and ban employee fraternization before it happens.

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It's probably legal, but not necessarily a good idea. Most companies that worry about employees fraternizing define the term 'fraternizing' as engaging in romantic or sexual relationships.

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That's not the only definition, though. The U. Some businesses use a similar standard.

Find a fraternizing definition

Companies that get the definition wrong can lose out. A court decision agreed: the company was defining fraternization too broadly.

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From the employee viewpoint, no-fraternizing rules often feel unreasonable. Where does the boss get off saying who workers can date or hang out with? From the company's viewpoint, it's staving off trouble before it starts. Sexual harassment is one issue, but not the only one:. Even fraternizing coworkers on an equal level can create some problems, however. Enforcing the rules is another matter.

Employees may simply ignore the rules if they think they're unfair.

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Supervisors may turn a blind eye if they don't think a relationship is harmful. Companies that do impose some sort of penalty have to do it fairly.

Legality of corporate fraternization policies

Firing a female staffer but not her boyfriend or treating executives better than the rank-and-file can lead to problems, even to litigation. Maintaining a non-fraternization policy is usually legal but there are limits.

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Making the policy too broad, as Guardsmark did, is one way to go wrong. Another is to ignore state or local law. In California, for example, businesses can fire a supervisor for sleeping with a subordinate but they can't fire an employee just for dating a coworker.

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Fraser Sherman has written about every aspect of business: how to start one, how to keep one in the black, the best business structure, the details of financial statements. He's also run a couple of small businesses of his own.

Some dating policies have gotten makeovers in the wake of #metoo

He lives in Durham NC with his awesome wife and two wonderful dogs. By Fraser Sherman Updated August 08, Examples of Integrity in a Manager. Even if there's no favoritism, coworkers might believe the subordinate is being singled out for special treatment. If the relationship ends, one partner might retaliate against the other, even turning violent. If the relationship goes bad, one member of the couple might quit.

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The couple winds up focused more on each other and their romantic life than the job. Businesses have adopted a wide variety of approaches to discouraging fraternization.

Google, facebook and airbnb employees only get one shot to ask a co-worker on a date

Ban all employee dating. Ban relationships between employees who work in the same department.

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Require couples disclose their relationships to HR. Discourage fraternization without actually banning it. Allow fraternization but step in if it actually hurts the workplace. Related Articles.

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Being at work for most of your waking life means many individuals find themselves developing attractions and relationships with their colleagues.


Workplace relationships add an element of complication to the environment even when relationships are between equals.


Workplace romances tend to be the stuff of legend — either because a department or entire company got dragged into the drama, or the couple lives happily ever after.


Airbnb is readying itself for an IPO and is likely trying to avoid the sexual harassment scandals that have plagued other tech startups like Uber UBER,