Because Americans spend more time at the office than practically any other place, coworkers are bound to forge close relationships. And often, these friendships can blossom into something more.
According to a 2003 American Management Association survey, 12 percent of managers admitted to dating a subordinate. These are the relationships that are risky for business. A scorned subordinate might decide the relationship wasn't consensual after all and file a harassment claim. Other employees might feel their coworker is getting special attention and allege favoritism.
According the forum participants, if the company believes one of its managers is engaged in an inappropriate relationship, in-house counsel should spearhead an internal investigation.
However, prior to investigating, general counsel should ensure that the allegation is credible.
"Love contracts are probably not an automatic bar to a sexual harassment lawsuit, but they're Exhibit A at the deposition," said Ryan Griffitts, a partner at Thompson, Coe, Cousins & Irons.
And that is as much as you can hope for.