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Dating In The Workplace

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This case deals with dating in the workplace. I believe probably more than any other topic I have heard more issues in my 13 years in the Army that deal with relationships among service members. I do believe it is morally acceptable for an employer to make rules against dating in the workplace. The degree to which rules are designed though should reflect on how much the relationship may affect the workplace. There should be no invisible rules towards the topic. That is an organization must put such a policy in writing and not just accept that it is understood and everyone will see things for the good of the organization. Individual members must be held accountable for their actions at all levels. A supervisor that violates a policy is as guilty as a subordinate and must be treated the same to ensure the integrity of the policy as well as the organizations standard.

Human Nature

It's 2 a.m. and the last touch has just been put on the project due by the team in 7 hours to the review panel. For the last 3 weeks, the team of 7 has been working until such hours of the morning to ensure they met the deadline set by the company they work and it would appear in this case live for. The company expects results and the employee's seem to be motivated enough to meet the goals set by the company. This is a regular pattern of this fictitious organization. Personnel from different departments are brought together to work on a project for the company.

With such a degree of team work expected by the organization so to should the human nature of individuals placed in such situations to form bonds and relationships beyond work be expected. The days of 9 to 5 with plenty of time in the evening and on weekends to interact with others socially are not as prevalent in today's U.S. workforce. The U.S. works longer hours than other countries and takes shorter vacations if any at all compared to other countries.

Strong recent growth in the number of working women, increasing management emphasis on close workplace teamwork, and longer hours being put in by managers and professionals are helping to fuel the dating trend, experts say (Arnett, 1998). When men were the primary workforce and had to make time to look for female companionship in areas not associated with work there were not significant issues for organizations to worry about dating in the workplace. "There's a gray area out there, but you're balancing privacy against an employer's right to put in reasonable rules and regulations at his workplace," said Ken Ristau, a labor attorney with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in Newport Beach. "Most companies take the proverbial ostrich-with-its-head-in-the-sand approach. They're concerned, but they find it too touchy."

Regardless of what companies do to prevent dating, however, the ultimate decision of taking that plunge will always be the employee's (Murray, 1990). Companies fraternization policies or lack there of must take into account the requirements placed on workers and the level of effect dating in the workplace will have on specific operations. It is the organizations responsibility to itself and its clients to ensure a productive and profitable enterprise.

Utilitarian Considerations

The greater good for the greater numbers here is an area that has two faces. Who or what is the greater good? Depriving the few workers of consensual romantic interaction that stems from work expectations in the masses of the business world could be said is important if one believes that this depravity is in the best interest of consumers everywhere. I do not believe that a limitation of fraternization based on this large idea of moral right is useful or actually would accomplish the stated intent.

The second face being if utilitarian ends are justified regardless of the means to accomplish the desired outcome then what is the actual desired outcome. Is it the stability of the company or the stability of the company to provide to its consumers? It is a company strategic responsibility to ensure that activities within its organization maintain good order and discipline in order to reach and maintain efficient production. The masses that should be considered in this equation from a utilitarian consideration are that of the employees of organizations. There are more of them than there are companies.

If a company uses fraternization policies that are fair and equal across the board for all parties than it is an individuals choice to decide whether to continue to work for the company. The office provides a pool of like-minded people that spend at least 40 hours a week together and share similar acquaintances, experiences and frustrations (Minarcek, 2004). When the human nature of expectations is not figured into the requests of a company on its employees then severe fraternization restrictions are immoral. If the employees are seen to the be a vital human workforce that must have guidance within which to operate than this means is justified to obtain the end result of fraternization denial in line with a companies strategic goals.

Deontological Considerations

Does an employee have a right to freedom to interact romantically with colleagues



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