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This applies as well to conduct on the telephone, email, and any other forms of communication.

In addition to maintaining a professional tone, it’s imperative to continue to abide by the firm’s confidentiality and security policies regarding sharing information. 2) Conduct during free work time (e.g., lunches): Conduct should be determined by the place, not the time.

Note: Every firm should have a sexual harassment policy, in addition to the office relationship policy.

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Do consider the size and demographics of the firm when developing your policies.

Think about the differences between a small start-up firm run by a group of pre-existing friends, a firm run by a husband-and-wife team, a small forty-person one-office firm, and a large firm with many practice groups and office locations.

The answers reflect commonsense advice for how to best preserve workplace professionalism and help your firm avoid legal issues.

You should always write a policy that conforms to your firm’s other employee policies, and HR should confer with the firm’s legal counsel in all matters such as this.

The idea is to create a policy that’s realistic enough that it can be enforced in a reasonable, fair manner. But avoid being so specific when writing a policy for your firm’s population that you inadvertently discriminate against a protected class.

The rules need to apply fairly to all couples no matter their sexual orientation, race, or other factors such as age (as long as no one is a minor—and you can never be too clear about this if you have interns).Yes, a firm has legal obligations to protect employees from sexual harassment and hostile work environments.It also has an obligation to protect its clients and itself from conflicts of interest.Even if the office prohibits them, employees need to know what precisely is prohibited.If relationships are allowed, the policies regarding them should reflect each organization’s unique makeup.If declaration forms are part of the policy, then they must be included in the Employee Handbook of policies and procedures, and discussed during sexual harassment training.

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