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So, for the purposes of this article, an office relationship will be defined as two people sexually involved with each other, and we’ll discuss tips and challenges when developing policies regarding office romances.Consider these facts (according to Career and the Huffington Post) when deciding whether your office needs a policy: Define your terms Within the boundaries of the law, every firm should determine its own definition of an office relationship.And, yet, sex constantly gets people in legal trouble…not to speak of other types of trouble.So, despite subjective definitions that change with each generation or new court case, workplaces need to establish (and regularly update) their parameters of acceptable behavior. “I know it when I see it,” said the Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart. What exactly constitutes an office relationship, and what rules—if any—should be applied to one?From judges to presidents, our society finds it incredibly difficult to establish definitions for anything having to do with sex.This applies as well to conduct on the telephone, email, and any other forms of communication.In addition to maintaining a professional tone, it’s imperative to continue to abide by the firm’s confidentiality and security policies regarding sharing information. 2) Conduct during free work time (e.g., lunches): Conduct should be determined by the place, not the time.
Think about the differences between a small start-up firm run by a group of pre-existing friends, a firm run by a husband-and-wife team, a small forty-person one-office firm, and a large firm with many practice groups and office locations.
Yes, a firm has legal obligations to protect employees from sexual harassment and hostile work environments.
It also has an obligation to protect its clients and itself from conflicts of interest.
Even if the office prohibits them, employees need to know what precisely is prohibited.
If relationships are allowed, the policies regarding them should reflect each organization’s unique makeup.
Even non-sexual behavior can be unwanted or inappropriate.