When co-workers mix business with pleasure, it's important for employers to take note.
Whether it's a drop in workplace morale or a sexual harassment lawsuit, office romances have the potential to cause big trouble for businesses of all sizes.
"Whether that be transferring one of the employees to a different division or even termination." Storrings said the key to any office romance policy is clearly defining fraternization and what is and isn't allowed.
"There is always a concern you could go too far in what you prohibit so that you actually affect the rights of employees to engage in certain activities," he said.
"The employer might be facing strict liability in terms of a civil claim," she said.
Harley Storrings,a labor and employment attorney with Arnstein & Lehr, said assertions of sexual harassment can come up even when a relationship is between two employees that don't report to each other.
For example, he said employers should adopt a uniform policy on what to do when relationships aren't openly disclosed.
"If it is going to be termination, then every single time you need to be prepared to terminate the employee," he said.Dianne Shaddock Austin, president of Easy Small Business HR, said there is a clear downside to colleagues getting involved in romantic relationships."All employers should be concerned about workplace romances," Austin told Business News Daily."Minimally, because of the effect on employee morale and ultimately because of the potential legal issues." Office relationships are something a large number of employers are faced with.Research from the Society for Human Resource Management revealed that 43 percent of HR professionals reported romances in their workplaces."Invariably,most relationships will come to an end and there could come a point where one person wants the relationship to continue and the other person doesn't," Storrings said.