Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Does Your Sexual Harassment Policy/Training Cover Workplace Relationships?

Although sexual harassment policies previously were only thought to be applicable to unwanted advances by a boss or co-worker, they now need to include protection from backlash after a failed office relationship. 

Some employers do not have a specific on office romances in place, and rely on their sexual harassment training and policies to cover any issues that may arise due as a result of an office romance.  However, whether or not a company has a specific policy regarding office relationships, their sexual harassment policies and training should cover this subject.

The main point associated with sexual harassement policies and office relationships deals with the aftermath of a failed relationship.  If one party feels particularly scorned by the outcome of the romance, they may resort to sexually harassing their former paramour.  It is important that companies protect the victim of this harassment, as it involves different nuances from the harassment caused by an individual they were not previously in a relationship with.

The person causing the harassment may be doing so in a vindictive fashion, but they also may just be intending to "win" their former partner back.  But if this physical or emotion attention is unwanted, it is still sexual harassment, and can cause suffering on the part of the victim and costly litigation for the company.

It is important that companies review and update their sexual harassment policies and training in order to incorporate information regarding office relationships.  Human resources professionals and managers should be on hand to address and grievances or questions that an employee may have regarding these policies.
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