Workplace romances are typically discouraged by employers because they may affect productivity, create uncomfortable situations, or lead to conflicts of interest. However, it isn’t illegal to date a coworker. Under California law, an employee’s right to privacy is protected when engaging in lawful activities while off-the-clock and away from work premises, which includes activities such as dating a coworker.
However, not all workplace romances are protected. Some employers may have anti-fraternization policies prohibiting office romances or they may require disclosure of workplace romances to protect the company. In these cases, you may be penalized for not disclosing your workplace romance and could be subject to termination or disciplinary action.
If you are penalized for having a workplace romance, speak with the experienced employment lawyers at Blackstone Law for a comprehensive assessment of your claim. We fight tirelessly to ensure your legal rights are protected every step of the way.
Do Employees Have to Disclose Workplace Relationships in California?
Whether you are legally required to disclose a workplace relationship depends on your employer’s romance and dating policy. If there are no established policies or guidelines for workplace romances, you likely do not have to disclose your relationship to your employer. However, if your employer addresses workplace dating in an employee handbook or in any of its policies, disclosure is likely required.
Upon disclosure of your relationship, an employer may require you to sign a statement or agreement stating that you are involved in a consensual relationship with a coworker. This agreement can provide protection against future accusations of sexual harassment or retaliation.
Consequences for Not Disclosing Workplace Romance
Due to the privacy protections in California, your employer cannot terminate you solely because you are having an off-hours relationship with someone who happens to be a co-worker. However, if the relationship creates a distraction at work, affects your performance, or creates a conflict of interest for the employer, such as a relationship that occurs between a supervisor and subordinate, your employer may be able to legally terminate you.
Additionally, if an employer has policies prohibiting romantic relationships in the workplace, there may also be specific penalties or consequences outlined in the standard procedures.
Speak With the Employment Lawyers at Blackstone Law
If you have been wrongfully terminated or reprimanded for a workplace romance that did not affect your performance, create a conflict of interest, or violate a workplace policy, your employer may be held liable for damages. Speak with an experienced employment lawyer at Blackstone Law, for an assessment of your unique claim. Schedule a no-cost consultation by calling (310) 956-4054 or filling out our contact form.