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Consensual Relationship Agreements: A Case Study

2144 words - 9 pages

Consensual Relationship Agreements: A Case Study
Zachary --
Dr. Kimberly A Carter
BUS520 Leadership and Organizational Behavior
April 22, 2012

Consensual Relationship Agreements: A Case Study
Introduction
A consensual relationship agreement is a written contract between coworkers used by their employer to publicly disclose a romantic relationship. The purpose of this contract is to protect the employer from future litigation in the event that the said relationship goes bad or to address office favoritism in play of a romance between superiors and subordinates. Some may argue that the agreements provide legal protection for all parties involved; others may feel that their ...view middle of the document...

This not only protects the employer from high-level sexual harassment lawsuits, but also protects the individuals involved. In an instance where an employee may claim harassment charges against another party, the second party is protected by the agreement claiming any events were mutual and the accusing party loses ground for the harassment claim.
These kinds of agreements may also protect non-involved parties in the event of showing favoritism to an employee based on their romantic relationship. The contract prevents hostile work environments such as in the 2005 California Supreme Court ruling of Miller v. Department of Corrections where a superior was directly involved in promoting a subordinate with whom he was having an affair with (All Work and No Play, 2005). A consensual relationship agreement may have prevented the superior from having any say in the promotion if it was known that the two parties were involved in a romantic relationship. Consequently had the employee not received the promotion she may have not been able to cite the relationship as a factor in the promotion process without legal documentation involved. While many employers will not try to ban workplace romances completely, they will adopt some kind of voluntary agreement that informs both parties of their individual rights both during and after the relationship in the event it ends poorly. While some may be apprehensive of waiving some legal rights by signing the agreement it is common that many feel relieved by the fact that someone is looking out for their best legal interest and that because of these agreements, companies find it unnecessary to have to mediate once the contracts are signed (Consensual Relationship Agreements, 2011).
In my own workplace, a consensual relationship agreement is not used however there is policy in place to prevent those in relationships from reporting to or being directly above one another (supervisor/subordinate relationships). In my own situation where I am in the same department as my wife, we are actually unable to have the same direct report. Even though I had switched schedules with a member of my wife’s team so that we may have the same schedule, I was not permitted to switch supervisors (which would be common practice in any other situation) because we would then have the same direct report. In this case a consensual relationship agreement (even between a married couple in lateral positions) would eliminate having to sidestep around policy to make a simple schedule switch work.
Arguments against consensual relationship agreements
While many feel the consensual relationship agreements help protect an employee’s legal rights, others may disagree that the agreements do anything to help the involved parties. Opponents of consensual relationship agreements claim that the contracts drive employees to become more secretive about their romantic practices. Others may claim that such agreements suggest unnecessary...

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