Joanna Schroeder thinks corporate “love contracts” may help protect against harassment and false accusations.
As my husband says, “You shouldn’t fish off the company pier.”
We all know that inter-office romance is a bad idea: hurt feelings, uncomfortable requests for toner in the supply room, evil glances over the cubicle partitions from the dumpee’s friends in the general direction of the dumper…
But Courtney Subramanian’s Time.com piece, Office Romance: Would You Sign a Contract To Date A Colleague? leads to something more serious, citing a growing trend in companies to lift a ban on office romances, and instead require would-be lovers to sign contracts as to the consensual nature of the relationship.
Signing a contract seems so forced, so cold, so… un-romantic, doesn’t it? Well, here’s what’s even less romantic:
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 11,364 charges were filed alleging sexual harassment in the workplace last year.
And those are the numbers for reported incidences. How many people quit their jobs because a romance went awry and their former lover used more subtle, perhaps less obviously illegal tactics to pressure their ex to bail on a job?
And how many of those sexual harassment suits were bogus? There’s no way for anyone to know, but it seems to me that when we’re talking about people’s livelihoods, whether you’re the alleged harasser or the harass-ee (especially in an economy like ours), a contract is a pretty good idea.
I know, it doesn’t feel like a free country when people are required to sign contracts about sex and love, but a corporation is a volunteer organization, not a governing body, so they can require all sorts of contracts, such as non-competition and non-disclosure agreements. Some companies even require signatures on contracts of morality, so this is nothing new.
While ultimately I agree with the expert quoted in the Time.com interview when she says that education and information about how to stop sexual harassment are probably the most important steps toward preventing harassment, a contract can be an opportunity to, at the very least, help outline proper behavior and teach people how sexual harassment happens and what it looks like.
Ultimately, these so-called “love contracts” are mostly just a CYA for the company to protect its assets. But if signing a contract encourages employees to think twice before revealing assets of their own, it’s probably not such a bad thing.
Or is there a better way?
For more on “Love Contracts” read Jamie Reidy’s Contractually Bound – But Not In A Kinky Way.
Photo Courtesy of Victor1