Loeb New York Employment & Labor chair Ian Carleton Schaefer is quoted in an article by Law360 discussing romance, hookups and dating within the workplace and the risks they carry, particularly between managers and junior employees.
"Dating in the workplace isn't illegal. It's just stupid," Ian told Law360. "And I think that's especially true for executives, or people in senior positions who are charged with displaying unimpeachable and impeccable judgment in being stewards for their companies and organizations."
Ian said that while prohibiting workplace romance won’t help (and may even cause further issues), he suggested that businesses should "strongly discourage" workplace romance within the company’s internal policy handbook.
"Romantic relationships in the workplace, while we realize can happen from time to time, are strongly discouraged because of the potential to create conflicts of interest and a difficult working dynamic. In the event that you are in a consensual relationship that falls within this policy, you have an obligation to disclose that to HR or your supervisor,'" he said.
Sources also told Law360 that it can be challenging for companies to conclude whether a relationship between two employees is consensual or whether one person within the relationship has been harassed, manipulated or coerced in some form or fashion.
According to Ian, sexual harassment claims fall into one of two categories: a hostile work environment caused by reoccurring harassment, or "quid pro quo," an altercation such as when a person in a senior position orders a subordinate to have sexual relations in order keep her job or to get a promotion.