Fraternization, Romance, and Liability – Reasons to Tighten Up Your Employee Handbook Right Now
December 7, 2009
In the past few months, two high-profile celebrities have been in the news for having affairs with a co-workers and/or staff. David Letterman admitted on national television that he had an affair with a staff member in response to an alleged $2 million dollar extortion threat. Steve Philips, former New York Mets General Manager and ESPN baseball analyst, was suspended by ESPN after news surfaced about his affair with a production assistant. Philips and Letterman are only the very public tip of the iceberg when it comes to affairs between co-workers, assistants, or subordinates.
Such conduct should be no surprise to employers, as employees often spend more hours at work then they do anywhere else. It is an environment that is usually non-threatening and allows for employees to get to know one another. The work environment in some respects is very similar to Facebook, Twitter or other social networking websites because people become comfortable and are allowed to be themselves. However, as the above examples suggest, office romance is wrought with problems and peril. Such conduct should bring pause to any business owner because the results can be costly to the company’s reputation and bottom line.
While it is very difficult to prevent the unforeseeable, business owners can learn from the mistakes of others and take a few simple steps to insulate their company from such conduct and the potential liability that can accompany it.
You should thoroughly review your employee handbook for policies associated with this type of behavior. Every company handbook should include the following policies: …
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by: Kevin V. Maltby
December 7, 2009