Employee Privacy and Romance


Does it matter who you love?  In some states same-sex couples can get married, but that’s not what this is about (although, I think ALL employers should provide benefits to ALL couples..).

No, this is about romance at work.  Many workplaces have rules about romances between employees… and many of those rules make sense.  If you’re supervising someone, you probably shouldn’t be dating them.  If you’re working with money, you might be tempted to cover up embezzlement.  If you’re on a tight-knit team a break-up may be a significant disruption.

In most cases, if a relationship develops that’s against the rules and the couple wants to stay a couple, one person must change jobs in some way.  All of that makes sense.

In the Business Ethics text I’m currently reading, there are cases in which a romance developed, one person LEFT the company to work at another company and the remaining employee was forced to choose between her boyfriend and her job.  That’s icky.

The company’s justification seemed to rest on confidential information and the worry that pillow talk would involve sharing those secrets.  That’s just plain silly.  For starters, in every workplace people form friendships and people leave.  Following the company’s justification, every time someone leaves their company they must also cut off friendships with former co-workers.

Further, it’s not an employer’s business who you spend your off time with.  As long as the relationship would be “moral” outside of work (i.e. it isn’t an inappropriate relationship with a minor), there is no justification for forcing someone to make a choice between their love and work.  none.

I have to wonder if the company in question was holding some outdated assumptions, namely that women are more loyal to their lovers than their bosses.  It surely is a hold-over from the days in which women stayed home and waited for their husbands to bring home the bacon.

I think it stinks… of all the things that may be an employer’s concern, a relationship of this sort simply isn’t one of them.  period.


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