First things first: is it legal to be dating while separated? The answer is yes…ish. While going on simple dinner dates and the like is usually fine,1 if you are in the process of going through a divorce, you want to be careful about taking things further But, if you’re dating while separated, you’ll find that honesty really is the best policy, no matter how awkward it might feel. If you want your new relationship to work out (whether just for the short term or, one day, as your second marriage), you want to start it from a trusting place. If you lie at the start - saying you’re single or divorced rather than separated - it might turn into a much bigger deal when your new partner finally realizes the truth.
The debate over whether or not companies should have the right to enforce a “no-dating” policy amongst co-workers has been considered for years in the business world. Though company headquarters worry that this kind of situation can risk affecting the quality of the employees’ work and the overall business at hand, that is not necessarily true. Regardless, in business situations; it is unethical to meddle in the personal affairs of co-workers; no matter what rank.
Personal relationships; whether among co-workers, competitors, or between persons of lower level and higher level positions, provided they do not negatively interfere with the company, should never be questioned or be used as a means of termination. In John R. Boatright’s “Dating at Wal-Mart,”, he states that the superstore strongly supports the “family unit”. In compliance with that claim, one of the policies prohibits “a dating relation between a married associate with another associate, other than his or her own spouse” in an attempt to “reinforce the wholesome, down-home image” they expect to hold.
Apparently, this rule was broken at a New York Wal-Mart when two sales associates started dating, one of which was legally married, althought separated from her husband. They were both immediately fired. It is undeniably wrong for a company to mix personal decisions about life with business.
Even if the woman were choosing to cheat on her husband, it would be her own personl decision and Wal-Mart would have no right to interfere with it. The relationship between the two associates was most likely not interfering with their abilities to perform their jobs and that is all management should be concerned with.
Along with that situation, according to an account written by Thomas I. White entitled “Love and Business”, the Coca-Cola company fired a data processing manager because she was engaged to an accountant with the Pepsi-Cola Company and refused to break it off.
A similar situation occured with IBM when an employee continued to date a former employee who was then working for a competitor. The woman working for IBM was terminated purely for competitive reasons. The company feared that the two employees would discuss company plans. Companies seem so quick to fire employees due to their personal, loving relationships.
However, this alone could negatively affect the company. By getting rid of perfectly good employees due to a rule that is irrelevant to the quality of their work or the company at all, could result in a less effective company. People should be fired from their jobs for poor attendance, dishonesty, or for no longer proficiently completing the tasks required, not because they happen to be in love with someone who works for the same company or a competing company.
In White’s article he claims that these restrictions are “unwarranted intrusions into employees’ private lives” and that love can be “critical to one’s well-being”, and those kinds of rules in a company are “an unreasonable price to pay for a job”.
Politically, enforcing a rule like that is a violation of personal freedom. The reasons that companies feel it is a threat is that they believe it could lead to favortism, an “unfair competitive advantage over other workers”, or there may be “tension, hostility, and difficulty commnicating” in a situation of former lovers continuing to work together.
While these issues are definetely a possibility, they should be dealt with accordingly, with no discussion of the possible cause. For example, if certain favortism or an advantage goes on in a company, whoever is illegally committing that should be dealt with. Also, if former lovers are arguing all the time and become unable to perform their jobs, the situation should be handled because of that reason.
The “no-dating” policy that companies enforce among co-workers is ridiculous. People should be allowed to have a relationship with anybody they want without having to fear losing their job over it. Wal-Mart’s support of families has nothing to do with providing low prices and great value to customers.
That is the purpose of Wal-Mart, not to promote “morals” to the public. Like church and state are supposed to be seperate, one’s personal decisions in life should not be mixed with business.
Also, company managers need to realize that by getting rid of good employees, the company will probably suffer more. There are more important things to focs on when considering the qualities of a good worker. By considering their personal relationships; their choice of religion or sexual preference might as well also be considered, which most businesses today would see as wrong.
Who an employee is dating is a personal decision that should not be interfered with.
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Dating relationship is a term which is governed primarily by state laws, which vary by state. Generally, a dating relationship is defined as a romantic or intimate social relationship between two individuals that is determined by the facts ineach case, such as the length of the relationship, the type of the relationship, the frequency of interaction between the two individuals involved in the relationship.
Dating relationship does not include a casual relationship or ordinary fraternization between two individuals in a business or social context.
The following is an example of one state's defintion of a dating relationship: " As used in this section, “dating relationship” means frequent, intimate associations primarily characterized by the expectation of affectional involvement.
This term does not include a casual relationship or an ordinary fraternization between 2 individuals in a business or social context."
Every company needs to consider a policy on workplace dating. Without a clear policy, an office relationship can lead to charges of sexual harassment and legal consequences for the employer.
Although some companies chose to have no policy on dating, that leaves them open to potential liability if a supervisor is shown to have sexually harassed a subordinate, for example, by giving a poor performance review to a former partner.
To avoid this, companies institute various types of dating policy. No-Dating Policies No-dating policies generally ban dating between a supervisor and their subordinate.
Employment attorney Anna Cohen, writing in HR Hero Online, suggests that no-dating policies can be problematic, as it is difficult to define exactly the type of behavior that will be restricted. For example, in the 2008 case of Ellis v. United Parcel Services, the 7th Circuit appellate court upheld a no-dating policy that forbade managers from a romantic relationship with any hourly employee, as long as it was consistently enforced.
However, in its opinion, the court also stated that the policy may have gone too far. Notification Policy Another option is to require employees to report whenever they enter into a consensual relationship.
This helps to protect the company from later charges that the relationship was not consensual and constituted sexual harassment. With this type of policy, the employees would also have to notify you whenever a relationship ends. For this reason, notification policies are sometimes seen as intrusive. With a notification policy, the manager the relationship is being reported to must also be required not to disclose the information, to protect privacy.
Love Contracts This is a written confirmation to management that any relationship taking place between employees is consensual.
The contract may also include the employees' written confirmation that they have been informed of the company's dating policy and the behavior that is expected of them, such as refraining from any acts of retaliation if the relationship ends. Employee's Legal Rights The 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas may impact dating policies. The case, which struck down a Texas law banning consensual homosexual relationships, has been interpreted as upholding the right of all consenting adults to engage in private sexual activity.
Employers could potentially be barred from banning workplace romances as a violation of the employee's constitutional right to privacy. According to attorney Ray Gallo, writing for the Daily Journal, forcing an employee to chose between their job and their partner would constitute an invasion of privacy, while a requirement to inform the company of a relationship would not.
Policy Guidelines When writing a workplace dating policy, it is important to reduce your potential legal liability. Cohen suggests that banning or limiting dating between supervisors and subordinates is the most important aspect of a dating policy.
Maria Stewart, a partner at Austin law firm Brown McCarroll LLP, suggests in the Austin Business Journal that policies on dating should include a way to report relationships that have turned hostile, and that employers must be on guard against any circumstances that could amount to harassment. She argues that any policy must be applied consistently and should set out clearly how decisions will be made. About the Author Since graduating with a degree in biology, Lisa Magloff has worked in many countries.
Accordingly, she specializes in writing about science and travel and has written for publications as diverse as the "Snowmass Sun" and "Caterer Middle East." With numerous published books and newspaper and magazine articles to her credit, Magloff has an eclectic knowledge of everything from cooking to nuclear reactor maintenance.
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