The Legality of Office Relationships
The recent media frenzy over David Letterman’s admission of having affairs with his staff has once again
ignited the debate over whether or not it’s acceptable to date people at the office. A lot of television
time is being dedicated to people arguing about it, with some people saying that it’s always sexual
harassment and has no place in the work environment, and others saying that it’s a stigma that has long
been outdated. It’s hard to know who to listen to, and at the end of the day, the most important question
is: are office romances legal?
The answer is, yes and no. While the courts have passed legislation on what is and what isn’t sexual
harassment, a full-out ban on romance in the office would probably be stuck down as unconstitutional.
However, it is within the legal rights of companies to place bans on relationships in their particular
workplace. So while there may be no law against dating your coworker, your employer may have policies
against it. If you are in a relationship that violates your company’s policies, you should be prepared
to face the consequences.
If your company has any policies against office relationships, they will be spelled out in the employee
handbook. Before you engage in such a romance, you should review the handbook just to be on the safe
side. Violating company policy can result in your termination, and you need to weigh your relationship
against this risk.
If you have been fired because of an office relationship and the consequences of doing so were not spelled
out in your employee handbook, contact the Austin employment attorneys of The Melton Law Firm at 512-330-0017
to discuss the facts of your case.