In a consensual relationship between a supervisor and a subordinate, the subordinate often is the recipient of preferential treatment.Employees have asserted claims for sexual harassment based on the theory that they can't receive the same benefits because they are not "sleeping with the boss." However, most courts have rejected this argument because such a consensual relationship disadvantages both male and female employees equally.However, employers may have another opinion on the matter. What Are the Potential Pitfalls of Employee Romances?Many employers see the idea of employees dating one another as potentially threatening productivity or even opening up too much liability for the employer. First, let’s look at some of the most common reasons employers may desire to curb employees’ desire for one another.The employers may fear: Can an Employer Prohibit Employees from Dating One Another?So, can an employer do something about these concerns?
The difficulty for the employer is proving that the relationship was consensual.
A 1995 survey estimated that 80 percent of all employees have either observed or been involved in a romantic relationship at work. The Problems with Employee Dating Even though romantic relationships in the workplace are common, employers have legitimate reasons for concern about employee dating.
The biggest fear is a sexual harassment lawsuit arising from either: Sexual harassment laws prohibit "unwelcome" sexual advances.
Often, an employee will argue that he or she was an unwilling participant in a relationship that merely appeared to be consensual.
Even a consensual relationship, if it goes sour, can result in unwelcome advances, stalking, or other predatory conduct.