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sexual harassment and has no place in the work environment, and others saying that it’s a stigma that has long been outdated.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.