Dating Customers & the Austin Workplace
Aug. 12, 2015
Can Employers Regulate Employees Dating Customers?
I recently spoke to an employer who sells services for teenagers and employs fit young adult men. He has concerns because some of the teenager’s mothers have expressed an interest in dating his employees. This employer also assumed he cannot control his employer’s off-the-job activities.
Employer Stances on Dating Customers
I hear employers avoiding rules about off-the-job activity often but this concern is a mutation of public employees inability to control off-the-job activity and all employer’s inability to make employment decisions based on protected classifications (think being African American or a woman). It is acceptable to have a policy against employing someone who is involved in a romantic relationship with a client. It is often a conflict of interest and there is no requirement that you employ folks whose interest conflict with your business.
Consistency in Dating Policies in /out of the Austin Workplace
An important issue here is that you must have a policy and you must enforce it consistently. It is accurate to say that an employer cannot tell an employee that they cannot date whomever they please but employers can maintain policies stating that dating certain people is inconsistent with contemporaneous employment at your company. In this case, you may have a carefully worded policy about dating clients or parents of clients. It is responsible to extend that policy to include vendors and employees or clients of affiliated companies. Relatedly, you need a disclosure policy so that employees are required to notify the employer if they engage in romantic activities with clients. In this way, when an employee does decide to prioritize romance over employment, the employer will have two polices, the anti-romance policy and disclosure policy, to cite during termination.