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Relationships in the workplace

Last updated April 2017

This chapter explains the legal ramifications of workplace relationships and what you can do to avoid them.

How can personal relationships affect your workplace?

We all know employees who have formed private relationships with other employees in the workplace, or even with persons working for clients or suppliers to the business. While there is nothing unlawful about this behaviour, it can lead to legal problems, such as:

  • claims of sexual harassment;
  • bullying claims; and
  • workers’ compensation claims.
Important: Office romances can also damage your corporate reputation.

When relationships result in sexual harassment

Sexual harassment claims can arise from workplace relationships.

Sexual harassment in the workplace is:

  • sexual conduct directed to one or more persons in the workplace;
  • that is unwelcome; and
  • is occurring in circumstances in which a reasonable person would conclude the persons to whom the conduct is directed is likely to be offended, humiliated or intimidated by the conduct.