December 9, 2016

Business Brief

Cupid Brings Costly New Consequences To Businesses

Valentine’s Day is almost here! And like just about everything else, the office romance has undergone some major changes due to – you guessed it – the recession.

Productivity dips may be the least of your problems. Now your company could end up with a major legal nightmare when co-workers hook up.

Check out what employers are up against now, and what you can do to keep costly headaches to a minimum.

Let’s start with the small silver lining: The need for job security in a down economy has fewer people willing to flout anti-fraternization policies. The number of people saying they’ve been involved in an office romance has plummeted in the past few years.

But the cases that still exist may give you more costly troubles than ever before.

A new kind of love triangle: The couple and the co-worker who cries harassment. Legal trend watchers say there’s been a recent spike in hostile work environment sexual harassment claims.
The real kicker: Often, these suits are brought by people who aren’t even part of the office romance! Instead, they’re co-workers who claim others received special treatment, better assignments, more leniency, etc., because of whom they were romantically linked with.

The good news? These third-party claims like these are tough to prove.

The bad news? They’re easy as pie to launch. And many employees hoping to protect their own positions in tight times are jumping to raise these types of grievances.

So what’s a cost-conscious company to do? Start by spelling out what’s OK and what’s not as far as inter-office dating. It’s shocking how few workplaces have done so: A mere 13% of your peers have a written policy addressing such matters.

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