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70 Def. Counsel. J. 78 (2003)
Romantic Relationships at Work: Does Privacy Trump the Dating Police

handle is hein.journals/defcon70 and id is 80 raw text is: The Privacy Project
Romantic Relationships at Work:
Does Privacy Trump the Dating Police?
Courts generally have upheld fraternization policies that balance employer
and interests carefully and that are administered impartially

By Rebecca J. Wilson, Christine Filosa
and Alex Fennel
N TODAY'S work-oriented culture, of
fice romances and the related topics of
sex and privacy have become important is-
sues confronted by most employers. With
more employees working longer days and
spending so much of their time on-the-job,
romantic relationships at work are develop-
ing more frequently.' Workplace romance
may be the only option for employees
whose workload limits their outside activi-
ties; but for employers, this trend may
prove problematic as the potential liability
associated with these relationships rises.2
A 1998 survey by the Society for Hu-
man Resource Management predicted that
55 percent of office romances would likely
result in marriage, but that 28 percent of
these office relationships may result in
complaints of favoritism from coworkers,
24 percent in sexual harassment claims,
and another 24 percent in the decreased
productivity of the employees involved.'
Statistics such as these have motivated em-
ployers to adopt prophylactic policies in an
effort to avoid the potentially complicated
and unsavory outcomes of office affairs
and to maintain a strictly professional work
1. Davan Maharaj, The Birds and the Bees-and
the Workplace, L.A. TIMES, available at http://
991121.htm (March 1, 2002)
2. Harvey R. Meyer, When Cupid Aims at the
Workplace; Romances Between Coworkers Can
Cause Problems for a Company; Be Prepared to
Handle Such Situations, NATION'S BUSINESS, avail-
able at www.findarticles.com/cf_0/mI 154/n7_v86/

IADC member Rebecca J. Wilson is a
partner in the Boston office of Peabody &
Arnold LLP and vice chair of the litigation
department, where she concentrates in
employment law and works with employ-
ers to develop procedures and policies to
prevent employment-related claims. She
received her undergraduate degree from
Trinity College in Washington, D.C., and
her law degree from Boston College in
Christine Filosa, a former associate at
Peabody & Arnold, is now associate legal
counsel at the Education Development
Center Inc.
Alex Fennel was a summer associate in
2002 at Peabody & Arnold and is a third-
year law student at Boston University.
As protection from litigation and poten-
tial liability, some employers adopt poli-
cies directly addressing dating in the work-
place. These policies range from the very
strict, such as a comprehensive prohibition
of dating between employees, to the more
lenient, such as a policy that actively dis-
courages, but ultimately allows, employees
to fraternize.' Even a simple policy requir-
ing employees to notify management when
coworkers are romantically involved pro-
vides documentation of a consensual rela-
20797623/print.jhtml (July 1998).
3. Cupid's Arrows Sometimes Compete with
Work Objectives-SHRM Survey Finds Office Ro-
mances Are Often Frowned upon by Employers,
available at www.shrm.org/press/releases/980128-
3.htm (January 28, 1998).
4. Jennifer L. Dean, Employer Regulation of Em-
ployee Personal Relationships, 76 B.U.L. REV.
1051, 1052-53 (1996).

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