In the workplace today, some employers adopt policies on romance at work to prevent uncomfortable situations that might arise between coworkers. In other workplace environments, some employers do not adopt any policy regarding this issue at all. Still some employers create other documents that address romance in the workplace. The issues describe above as well as the different ethical issues associated with Consensual Relationship Agreements will be discussed in the upcoming paragraphs below.
There are many pros for the use of Consensual Relationship Agreements in the workplace. In a study by Parks in 2006, fewer than 15% of employers had a policy dealing with romance or sexual relationships in the workplace (Parks, 2006). The workplace has always been a major place for individuals to meet and learn about each other. This proximity may lead to attraction and romance, which in turn could make more problems for the organization. According to Clark (2006), “About 80% of employees may be involved in or know of a workplace romance” (p. 350). Some employers try to ward off sexual harassment charges and other problems stemming from office romances by having the employees who are romantically involved read and sign a consensual relationship agreement. According to Schwartz and Storm (2000), “A sexual harassment lawsuit can arise from either 1. A supervisor who has a habit of asking subordinates out of dates; 2. An employee who files a lawsuit after a consensual relationship goes sour; or 3. The perception of co-workers that a supervisor is playing favorites with his or her “significant other” (p. 150). Sexual harassment laws prohibit “unwelcome” sexual advances. Therefore, the participants in a truly “consensual” relationship cannot prove sexual harassment. The difficulty for the employer is proving that the relationship was consensual. Often, an employee will