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Conflict of interest dating in the workplace

Both employees and managers received training about what sexual harassment is and what to do if it occurs, Olson said, adding that it’s important for the employees to know that they are protected and that managers are receptive to their concerns.

Internet Sites How to Lose Your Heart and Keep Your Job Love Connections Romance in the Workplace Sexual Harassment Why Can’t We Be Friends?

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Article Contributors Writer: Polly Campbell Carol Kleiman, a nationally syndicated columnist and jobs columnist for the Chicago Tribune, was consulted for this article.

By fostering fair and open communication with employees, you can identify and handle any issues of sexual harassment and enhance the level of trust in the workplace.

REAL-LIFE EXAMPLE [top] With 100 employees and an office atmosphere built on teamwork, trust and honesty, Supertracks is reluctant to do anything that could destroy the workplace culture, said human resources director Kirsten Olson.

Employees usually work 12-hour days and often socialize together outside of the office.

Working at the company, there are two married couples and others who are dating, Olson said.

So far, the relationships have not had a negative impact on the working environment.

If a situation arose where a manager was dating a subordinate, staff shifts would occur so that the manager would no longer supervise that employee, Olson said. The moves would be made to minimize the conflict of interest and eliminate the power imbalance. Nor have there been any claims of sexual harassment, but Supertracks is prepared should an instance occur.

Encourage employees to disclose relationships of this nature and then have them report to other managers to avoid claims of favoritism or discrimination.

Evaluate the structure of your business, and identify areas of higher risks, in the event of a romantic relationship. Examples may be found on the Internet, from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, in HR books, or you may even want to request copies of policies from other companies with whom you have contact.

That means any rules prohibiting dating in the workplace would actually destroy the positive feelings and relationships that have contributed to the company’s success.