Dating contracts in the work place

04-Jul-2015 02:52

“But it does minimize the company’s legal liability.”When a supervisor and a subordinate are involved with each other, she adds, the part of the cupid contract that says the romance is voluntary is especially important, from a legal point of view: “It establishes from the outset that there is no sexual harassment taking place.” That’s the kind where a boss tells an underling, for example, “You can have a raise if you sleep with me.”Of course, that doesn’t apply to you and your boyfriend -- but I bet this whole subject is a bigger can of worms than you suspected.

Considering all the various ways that office romances can turn ugly and litigious, having to sign a cupid contract might not seem so strange.

In that case, it might result in more than just estranged co-workers—it could lead to a sexual-harassment lawsuit. Love contracts are relationship agreements that permit employees to disclose office romances while insulating employers from liability. They’ve even been elevated into the pantheon of pop culture, thanks to the TV sitcom The Office.

When Dunder Mifflin regional manager Michael Scott (played by Steve Carell) embarks on an affair with his superior Jan, she insists that he sign such an agreement.

The document you signed -- sometimes called a “cupid contract” or a “love agreement” -- probably spells out the firm’s policy on sexual harassment, including to whom you can turn for help if your romance goes sour and your boyfriend starts, for instance, stalking you at work or threatening to get you fired.

(I know, that probably strikes you as wildly unlikely, but it’s been known to happen.)MORE: The age of the 'recycled CEO' Asking you to confirm in writing that the relationship is voluntary gives the company a defense later on if you try to sue on the grounds that you were coerced or intimidated into accepting your boyfriend’s amorous advances.

For corporate success stories, look no further than Southwest Airlines.

“LUV” proves more than just a stock market designation for the Dallas-based airline, which in 2002 employed more than 1,000 married couples.

“That’s a best practice, not a legal requirement,” Campbell notes.

FORTUNE -- Dear Annie: I will be a senior in the fall and just started a summer internship at a major financial services company, and something has come up that seems strange to me.

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