Consensual Relationship Agreements
By: Vickie Gonzalez
Bus 520 – Leadership and Organizational Behavior
Professor: Dr. Marilyn Carroll
October 24th, 2012
Workplace romances are now one of the challenges that organizations of all sizes have to address. How they address them varies from organization to organization. Some businesses and organizations strictly prohibit them in any form or fashion, while others prohibit them when the participants are in certain roles within the organization. Some companies have chosen not to address the issue at all and others are using a more formal method of documenting and mitigating the risk they feel these relationships pose. One of the methods of ...view middle of the document...
Now, according to the US Department of Labor, there are 72 million women in the civilian labor force alone (2012). The years following World War II were a time of challenge, adaptation and diversification for business, and revolution and exploration for women.
Harassment, specifically sexual harassment, is one of those challenges faced by businesses and employers as of a result of workplace diversification. Inappropriate conversations, unwanted advances and uncomfortable physical contact are some of the ways sexual harassment can occur. According to Hellriegel and Slocum, “Sexual harassment refers to unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.” (p.52). To be clear, sexual harassment can, and has, affected both women and men over the years however up to half of all working women have reported experiencing some form of sexual harassment in the career (Vijayasiri, 2008, p.1). It wasn’t until 1986 though that the Supreme Court recognized sexual harassment as a violation of Title VII in the case of Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson (O’Brien, 1994, p. 1). Before the high court’s ruling, however, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had begun to address the issue by drafting hostile work environment guidelines that included sexual harassment (O’Brien, 1994, p. 4). These guidelines would serve later to guide the high court’s decision. There are many more cases like this one we could look at. In 1991, sexual harassment became a household term as Anita Hill testified before congress stating she was sexually harassed by a current nominee for the Supreme Court. In her statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee Ms. Hill stated, “It is only after a great deal of agonizing consideration, and sleepless, number of , great number of sleepless night, that I am able to talk of these unpleasant matters to anyone but my close friends” ( Black Scholar, 1991, p 1). For many American this was the first time they had really thought about or discussed sexually harassment. It was on our televisions, out in the open, for the whole world to see. As a result of brave employees like Ms. Hill and many others sexual harassment is no less tolerated in the workplace and employers are required to have specific policies addressing it. Now what happens when the relationship between two employees is consensual? No harassment has occurred. Romance is in the air.
Some organizations have policies that prohibit workplace relationships of any kind and participating in one is grounds for termination. Other businesses only prohibit these relationships in the event that one party reports to or manages the other. More and more firms are using consensual relationship agreements or CRAs. A CRA is a written agreement or contract in which the involved parties agree to specific guidelines in the workplace (Hellriegel/Slocum, 2011, p. 65). This is one of the practices or policies an organization can use...