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Please note that all such forms and policies should be reviewed by your legal counsel for compliance with applicable law, and should be modified to suit your organization’s culture, industry, and practices.
“Not that we have a large issue with dating, but we want to do everything we can to make sure we are protecting ourselves when it comes to situations that could open ourselves up to sexual harassment issues.” Other independent agencies that have dating policies are looking into aligning them with their sexual harassment policies.
For instance, two months ago, one HR director said its agency changed its dating policy to include a reference to sexual harassment.
Digiday spoke with a combination of 23 agencies, human resources consultancies and marketers, several of whom asked to remain anonymous due to the sensitive nature of the subject, about their existing or nonexistent dating policies.
Across the 11 ad agencies Digiday spoke to, views vary on whether they should enforce a dating policy or if one would have any effect on sexual harassment.
Barbarian agency not only has a dating policy everyone signs and reads, but it also has a lawyer come in every six months to speak to the agency about sexual harassment in the workplace and how supervisors should not date subordinates.
This past Monday, RPA held a training around sexual harassment for all its officers that went over best practices for dating in the office.
The Jun Group just updated its employee handbook to include additional examples of what sexual harassment can look like.
“Dating policies are not a new phenomenon, but with the renewed conversation around harassment in the workplace, we are seeing ad agencies take a moment to consider whether they need one or how they might update one,” said Annick Miller, director of HR consulting at Namely, an HR software platform that also consults on companies’ HR strategies.
“We’ve been thinking about adding a dating policy,” said one HR director at an independent ad agency, who requested anonymity.
However, it is important to assess the pros and cons of strict workplace dating policies, and take into account how to handle both managers and subordinates under such a policy, as well as the steps to take to prevent such policies from raising privacy concerns. Can an employer legally demote or transfer a manager who is dating one of his subordinates even though the company doesn’t specifically have a no-dating policy?
While it’s not illegal to demote, transfer, or even fire an employee who is dating a co-worker, supervisor, or subordinate in his/her department, if you don’t have a specific no-dating policy, you could be setting yourself up for future legal battles.
Office romances can not only have an adverse effect on workplace productivity, but can engender claims of favoritism, sexual harassment and retaliation.