Philadelphia partner David Woolf was quoted in an article for Intelligent Insurer titled “Managing the Office Romance.” The article discussed best practices for employers to address workplace relationships.
“Legally speaking there’s not a lot of regulation or rules when a relationship is consensual,” David said. “There are certainly best practices that have evolved; they are mostly employer-dependent.”
David explains that, historically, employers have not been interested in regulating this type of conduct, other than to protect their businesses and their work. Certain rules or company policies, such as ‘love contracts’—seen mainly in the US—can help prevent future problems.
David also notes that power imbalances create a different issue, and that it is common to have a rule that two employees cannot be involved if one is subordinate to the other or if one has direct managerial or budgetary authority over the other.
“It’s a conflict of interest issue,” David said. “For example, is a supervisor charged with reviewing a subordinate going to be fair? If there is some kind of promotion or an advancement, the company may still go to the supervisor and ask his or her opinion but they may treat it differently if they’re in a relationship.”