Valentine’s Day is over and, despite the fading roses on Connie’s desk, Dale Dalliance and Connie Canoodle were adamant that they have no romantic involvement. That is, until the new company security camera caught them in a compromising situation in the warehouse last week. To compound the problem, Dale is married and is a line manager at Get Sacked. Connie works for Dale on his line and is also married … but not to Dale.

Recognizing the risk of liability to the company for workplace romances, their boss used to have a “no dating” policy. Now Get Sacked has a required consensual relationship agreement, or “love contract.” Under the new company policy, the employee handbook provides that “if a supervisor and subordinate are having a romantic relationship, it is the responsibility of the senior person to disclose the relationship to human resources or be in violation of the policy.” Get Sacked reserves the right to transfer one or both of Dale and Connie because they are in the same chain of command.

Can Get Sacked require a “love contract?” If signed, will a “love contract” end the exposure?

The jury is still out on “love contracts.” Probably to no one’s surprise they originated in California in the entertainment industry. While there are reported to be several thousand such contracts in existence TS finds no reported cases on them – only anecdotes of employees who sued and, when confronted with “love contracts” previously signed, dismissed their claims. Under the right circumstances it does seem appropriate for an employer to address office romances. After all, it is the employer who risks a retaliation claim once the relationship ends, not to mention the risk of decreased employee morale and productivity, and the appearance of unprofessional behavior to customers and vendors.

Tilting the Scales in Your Favor:

  • Any love contract policy should be incorporated into the employee handbook and be widely disseminated
  • The love contract should acknowledge
    • The relationship is voluntary and consensual
    • The employees agree to abide by the company’s conduct policies
    • They promise to report any perceived harassment to management
    • They agree to behave professionally and to not allow the relationship to affect their work
    • They agree to avoid behavior that offends others in the workplace
    • They agree not to engage in favoritism.
    • They are free to break up without adverse effects on their jobs.