Daily Archives: June 6, 2008

Dating a Coworker? We’ll Need You Both to Sign This “Love Contract”

Some employers, concerned about workplace romances and sexual harassment lawsuits,  require that dating coworkers sign “Love Contracts.”  (see article here; free registration required).

That’s right: a contract that sets terms on love.

The Contracts require dating employees to agree, among other things, that their personal relationship is consensual (e.g. to admit their relationship does not involve a supervisor misusing his authority and coercing a subordinate to date him).

A bit intrusive, you might say?  In practical terms, yes.  But in legal terms, no.  While I feel employers often go WAY overboard with intrusive maneuvers (viewing employees’ emails and internet use, using PIs to spy on injured workers, etc.), I actually agree with employers’ use of “Love Contracts.”

Why?  Because employers have reason to be concerned.  Sexual harassment is a very real risk in worker-dating situations, and liability for a sexual harassment lawsuit can be staggering.  Most dating-relationships end without marriage, and many end with hard feelings.  And many jilted people do irrational things.  These realities are painfully evident to employers, likely even more so than to love-struck coworkers who are blinded to common risks and future contingencies.

It only makes sense that employers ask dating coworkers to acknowledge that their relationship is personal, is of their own free will, and that it’s not the employer’s fault if things go sour.

After all, love hurts.

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Filed under Humor

Opportunity in Conflict

If you’re in an employment dispute, it’s all too easy to get wrapped up in negativity: finger-pointing, petty arguments, defensiveness, close-mindedness and rash judgments.  I’ve made these mistakes myself, as an attorney who is not a personal party to these disputes– I can only imagine how hard it is for the disputing parties to set aside hard feelings.  But it can be done.  Ultimately, conflicts get resolved.  Sometimes, through a legal judgment.  More often, through settlement– that is, through an agreement reached at some later point when the parties come around and work together.  Why not work together sooner?

When feeling negative, I try to remind myself to look at conflict as an opportunity.  An opportunity to DO several things.  To be courteous when the situation makes it hard to.  To state my position in a manner that is factual and not offensive.  To follow the Rules- and look to them as a beacon in times of turmoil and stress.  To, when upset, count to ten (or one hundred).

Conflict also presents an opportunity to NOT do things.  To refuse to take the bait, when insulted.  To, as Will Rogers once said, “Never miss a good chance to shut up.”  To refuse to lose one’s cool.

Of course, all of this is easier to say than do.  But I believe that someday, I’ll reach a point where I consistently maintain this approach.  What about you?

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Filed under Philosophy - Employee Rights