Can ‘love contracts’ ward off potential litigation from office romances gone bad?
Posted Feb 13, 2013 3:00 PM CDT
By Rachel M. Zahorsky
With office romances more common in white-collar workplaces with flatter hierarchies—hello, law firms—employment lawyers are increasingly advising their peers on ways to manage workplace relationships.
This has led to some firms requiring romantically involved co-workers to sign agreements saying the romance is consensual in an attempt to head off litigation should things sour, the Wall Street Journal Law Blog (sub.req.) reports.
“I see them more in the professional-type environments, where you have a lot of connection between a lawyer and his secretary or paralegal,” Helene Wasserman, an employment lawyer at Littler Mendelson in Los Angeles told Law Blog of the so-called love contracts.
And, given that 35 percent of attorneys surveyed by career website Vault.com in 2011 admitted to office trysts, the potential for sexual harassment lawsuits or allegations of favoritism shouldn’t be dismissed, according to Law Blog.
“And a lot of the times these situations involve pretty senior level people dating people they work with, oftentimes in subordinate positions,” Joe Beachboard, a shareholder at labor and employment law firm Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart told Law Blog. “That’s really where the risk lies.”