With legal threats on the rise, especially from “third parties,” Bloomberg Businessweek reports that office romances are the latest casualty of the recession. Anecdotally, they appear to be on the decline, and offices are doing their darndest to prevent them from sparking in the first place. How many of you have been forced to sit through web-based compliance training about office relationships, or in-house HR seminars about the thin line between flirting and sexual harassment? But BBW tells us it doesn’t stop there:
Another strategy is forcing employees to sign “love contracts,” the office version of a prenup, stating their mutual affection will not interfere with the workplace. If such documentation effectively takes the fun out of an office romance, well, that’s the point.
In other words, if you start dating a co-worker, your bosses could make you sign something saying that you’ll keep that mess out of the office. No matter what. Legally.
But here’s the question. What if he takes too long in the shower every morning, causing you to get up late and have to scramble so that you’re kind of a sweaty mess on the subway? You do it every day, still, because you want to wake up together and you still think it’s kind of sweet to commute together, even though you can’t really talk on the train because it’s too crowded, and you maybe have been done the turn-the-underwear-inside-out trick once or twice lately because you’re always sleeping at his house, since he says he can’t sleep in the same room as your cat, and so you never have enough clothes. You’ve tried to mitigate the issue by stopping at H&M on the way home, but that doesn’t solve the real problem, which is shoes — and that you’re sort of tired all the time, and you can never blow-dry your hair. In other words, the fact that you keep forgetting to put cover sheets on your TPM reports may not be directly because of your relationship, but there’s a strong chance there’s some sort of link there. Is that a breach of contract?
Why Office Romance Is on the Wane [Bloomberg Businessweek]