Love Contract and The Austin Workplace
Sept. 9, 2015
What Is a Love Contract?
Many companies, including the highly engaged Austin Startup community, work long hours and share experiences together at a high level that often spills into romantic encounters, relationships and even love at the Austin workplace. Understanding the law as applies to both heterosexual and homosexual relationships in the workplace can help you create a workplace of harmony rather than one of discomfort and possible litigation. Having an attorney help you develop a love contract can help you achieve these goals.
Recently, Michael P. Maslanka, who I deeply respect, wrote Work Matters: Drafting Employee Love Language. I commend the article to you as both fun reading and preliminary reading for this article. Mr. Maslanka’s bullet points were as follows:
Be wise regarding the description.
Include a no-kissy-face clause.
Include a grandfather.
Plan for change.
Hands off, supervisors.
Understand human nature.
Austin Love Contracts and Homosexuals
Texas employers of homosexual employees must also consider these employee agreements as an important tool to managing their workforce. The important reasons for creating a “Love Contract” have as much to do with the law as they do with workplace harmony. In Texas, even if our state legislature does not recognize homosexual marriage, every employer recognizes workplace harmony is important and that homosexuals engage in relationships.
Another element to consider here is an issue of fairness. The rules should not be different for homosexuals because it can lead to claims of discrimination and gender inequality. This is a very real issue for employers of homosexuals because gays are winning claims about disparate treatment in courts. More specifically, gay men are proving that that they are being treated negatively and differently in the workforce because supervisors expect them to act like strait men and engage in the same types of behaviors as strait men. To further this analogy, if you require heterosexual couples in the workplace to enter into a Love Contract, for all the reasons Mr. Maslanka explains, you need to require gay couples in the workplace enter into Love Contracts.
Love Contracts and Timing
Here is an example: Big Company has four employees. Bob, Mary, Sam, and Ted. Bob and Mary begin a relationship and their employer requires them to execute a Love Contract. If Sam and Ted then enter into a relationship, and Big Company does not require them to enter into a Love Contract, Ted and Sam will be able to accurately claim that Big Company perceived that they were different than Bob and treated them different than Bob. They may be able to use that extension to further claim that, because they were treated differently, as evidenced by the different Love Contract requirements, Big Company also treated them differently with regards to benefits, promotions, and raises. Conversely, if Big Company requires Ted and Sam to execute a Love Contract like Bob’s Love Contract, Big Company will have one more shield to prove that Ted and Sam were treated the same as other