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Dating in the workplace: Your rights as an employee

It's natural to meet people who share the same interests as you at your place of employment. However, if you're interested in entering a romantic relationship with someone at work, you need to understand what you can and can't do.

The primary issue with employee dating is the fear of sexual harassment. For example, if a supervisor is dating a subordinate, this could come into play if the relationship ends on a sour note.

Some companies attempt to hedge off any problems by implementing a no-dating policy. With a carefully crafted message in the employee handbook, employers are able to implement a policy that attempts to keep employees from dating one another.

Other companies realize that it's not best to get in the way of personal relationships. For this reason, they use a consensual relationship agreement when applicable. This requires that both individuals in the relationship sign an agreement stating that their relationship will not interfere with their job or the work environment as a whole.

Just as important, the document also outlines that the relationship is voluntary and consensual for both individuals.

It's never easy for a company to decide how to address office romances. This can lead to a situation in which an employee is the victim of some form of discrimination or wrongful termination.

If you were reprimanded or terminated as the result of a workplace romance, review your employee handbook and any documents you signed. As you collect more information, you'll begin to understand your legal rights and the steps you can take to protect them.

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