I’ve been doing a lot of harassment prevention training lately.
One reason is because it is an odd year (2019), and the requirement to train managers & supervisors started in 2005, so many California businesses are on an odd year cycle for in-person training (with online options in between).
Another reason is that such training is top of mind for many employers given the new #MeToo inspired laws (summarized succinctly here), including a need to train all employees, not just managers and supervisors, by January 1, 2020.
One theme in these trainings is that things that used to be okay just aren’t anymore. There is a spotlight on these issues right now. And as the news shows us, behaviors from many years ago are coming back to haunt people today.
One of those behaviors involves dating (or hooking up) with work colleagues. Lots of people have done it. Many still do. But in today’s world, that is pretty darn risky behavior.
A question I often pose in training is “can you have a consensual relationship with your boss?” Of course it feels consensual to the supervisor, and may feel consensual to the subordinate at the time…. but what about later? How can the supervisor prove it was consensual if the subordinate later changes their mind?
For Valentine’s Day, we lawyers can consider a love contract, a document that both parties sign to indicate the relationship is voluntary, consensual, and if it ever is not, the subordinate has avenues for raising any concerns. This may serve as a deterrent, but it is not a perfect solution.
What is? Well, here is where we get to the maxims:
- Don’t get your meat where you get your bread
- Don’t fish off the company pier
- Don’t dip your pen in company ink
- And don’t [expletive] where you eat
Happy harassment-free Valentine’s Day!