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Valentines Thoughts about Workplace Love Contracts

Problem: A recent survey revealed that approximately 40 percent of U.S. workers have dated fellow employees, and another 40 percent would consider doing so. Inevitably, most workplace relationships end. Some end badly, and many of those result in lawsuits involving claims of coercion or retaliation, even though most of these relationships are completely consensual at the outset. In response to litigation arising from workplace relationships, many businesses have implemented nonfraternization policies designed to prohibit or discourage workplace relationships. But these no-dating policies have had limited effect. According to the same survey, 84 percent of U.S. workers have no idea whether their employers have such policies or think it has chosen not to institute one.
Solution: In response to the limited effectiveness of these policies, many companies have developed employee relationship acknowledgements, otherwise known as "love contracts," in which employees in a relationship make certain disclosures to the employer. A love contract, when properly implemented, can serve as a powerful deterrent to future litigation. Although the precise language will vary, an effective love contract should contain the following disclosures:
Love contracts, when properly implemented and appropriately drafted, will reduce the likelihood of litigation arising from workplace relationships. In the event of litigation, an effective love contract will help lessen the chances of misunderstandings or even lawsuits, and bolster a company's defenses in the event one is filed.

This article appeared in the February 16, 2009 issue of Missouri Lawyers Weekly.


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