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The laws are in place to protect both the employee as well as the employer or organization.Since employers can be held responsible in states such as California for the actions of their supervisors, there are regulations and requirements for sexual harassment training for all managers in an organization with fifty or more employees.Laws exist to protect employees in such situations, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which defines sexual harassment, and the difference between quid pro quo relationships and hostile environment harassment in the workplace.Relationships between a supervisor and his or her employee can have a negative impact on the entire organization.According to the EEOC, "Harassment can include 'sexual harassment' or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature." The EEOC also explains that the victim can be harassed by a co-worker, an outside vendor or visitor to the workplace, or the employee's supervisor.It is in this latter instance, where the relationships between supervisors and employees can become a problem in the workplace.Therefore, the participants in a truly "consensual" relationship cannot prove sexual harassment.The difficulty for the employer is proving that the relationship was consensual.
Jason Habinsky, Haynes & Boone; (Guidelines for Employee Handbooks, Work Rules and Policies; Work Rules Concerning Political and Charitable Activity and Employee Expression of Views; Work Rules Regarding Use of Employer Equipment, Vehicles and Communication Systems; Prohibited Conduct; Work Rules Regarding Off Duty Conduct; Work Rules Regulating Employee Dress; Grooming and Personal Appearance; Work Rules Regarding Employee Work Schedules and Shifts; Work Rules Regarding Attendance, Tardiness and Timekeeping).
Workplace relationships add an element of complication to the environment even when relationships are between equals.
When a supervisor has a relationship with an employee under his management, the dynamics can be toxic for the workplace.
Often, an employee will argue that he or she was an unwilling participant in a relationship that merely appeared to be consensual.
Even a consensual relationship, if it goes sour, can result in unwelcome advances, stalking, or other predatory conduct.