Top Ten Tips Disclaimer
Many employers are concerned about inappropriate relationships within a company's workforce. The extent to which an employer may legitimately respond to what it determines is inappropriate behavior between employees in terms of interpersonal relationships is really dependent upon the employer's policy. The answer, at least in the area of employment law, is that while an employer should not necessarily try to limit any and all on- or off-duty contact or relationships between employees, it may certainly impose reasonable limits on any such relationships or conduct when the conduct threatens work relationships, jeopardizes work flow, or harms the employer's reputation among its customers or in the community at large. An example of a policy that an employer might adopt with such concerns in mind could be something like the following:
While XYZ Company encourages a collegial and supportive atmosphere at work for its employees, interpersonal relationships between employees may become a concern if they have the effect of impairing the work of any employee; harassing, demeaning, or creating a hostile working environment for any employee; disrupting the smooth and orderly flow of work within the office; or harming the goodwill and reputation of the company among its customers or in the community at large. For this reason, XYZ Company reminds its employees that the following guidelines apply in their relations with other employees, both on and off duty:
Friendships and social contacts between employees are not a matter of concern as long as they are consistent with the above guidelines. Employees may address any questions on this policy to [designated member of management].
Disclaimer: This is only a sample policy and does not constitute an official policy or recommendation of the TWC or the State of Texas. As is the case with any of the sample policies and employment forms found in this book, it is best to have such a policy reviewed by an employment law attorney of your choice who can consider all of the factors and aspects of the situation and determine whether the policy meets your company's needs.
If your company adopts such a policy, all employees should sign for copies of the policy and be trained in what it means. The best way to do that would be to hold a mandatory staff meeting, distribute an agenda to all employees in which discussion of the policy appears as an action item, have all employees sign an attendance roster, hand out copies of the new policy, discuss it, hold a question-and-answer session with everyone present, pass out copies of acknowledgement of receipt of policy forms for everyone to sign specifying the policy received, collect the signed forms, adjourn the meeting, and distribute copies of the minutes of the meeting in which the action items accomplished at the meeting are set forth with specificity.
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