In addition, any policy that prohibits co-worker dating should have an exception for employees who are married to one another.

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by requiring termination or transfer) may create sexual discrimination liability.

When enforcing a "no dating" policy, the employer must be careful to penalize both sexes equally.

Business Necessity: Think about your business justification for imposing a consensual relationship policy.

How have consensual relationships been handled in the past?

An employer may violate an employee's right to privacy by regulating the employee's private off-work relationships.

The employer is most at risk when trying to investigate and enforce a "no dating" policy by hiring a private investigator to follow the employee around, secretly reviewing an employee's voice mail, or listening in on an employee's office phone line. Consensual Relationship Agreements As an alternative, some employers require that employees enter a "consensual relationship agreement." The agreement, signed by both employees and management, provides that the employees will not allow the relationship to interfere with or impact the work environment.

So long as the spouses don't supervise one another, a "no dating" policy enforced against spouses would violate this law.

Another problem arises from concerns about an employee's right to privacy while off the job.

For example, employees often go to lunch together, may go out for a happy hour drink, or may attend a BBQ or picnic with one another.

The policy should define if and when these activities are to be considered "dating." Public & "Just Cause" Employers: A governmental entity or a company with a "just cause" termination policy must approach no dating policies with great care.

Often, an employee will argue that he or she was an unwilling participant in a relationship that merely appeared to be consensual.