Under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”), it is unlawful for an employer to subject an employee to different terms and conditions of employment because of the employee’s sex. The first type is “Quid pro quo” harassment, which occurs when submission to sexual conduct is explicitly or implicitly made a condition of a job, a job benefit, or the absence of a job detriment.
The second type is a “hostile work environment,” in which an individual must show: (1) he or she was subjected to conduct of a harassing nature because of his or her sex; (2) the conduct was both subjectively and objectively unwelcome; and (3) the conduct was sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the employee’s working environment so as to create an abusive working environment.
Relationships Between Supervisors and Subordinates While any relationship between employees may cause problems in the workplace, the level of exposure to employers increases when a romantic relationship develops between a supervisor and subordinate.
Many businesses have formal policies in place that discourage personal relationships between co-workers, primarily to prevent any of the above issues arising.
Realistically, however, this will be difficult to enforce, and does not entitle an employer to know everything about an employee’s private life, particularly where personal relationships are concerned.
Legally speaking, in most states an employer can enact a policy that prohibits employees from dating one another.
(Check your state and local laws for exceptions, which do exist and are usually centered on employee privacy or limitations for employers on prohibiting nonwork activities.) However, even if legal, banning any work romantic involvement can come with its own consequences.