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Sheriff's Department Bans Workplace Romance

Marriage will get you fired, too.

By Kristin Wong Jun 20, 2012 3:19PM

Image: Map of Cookeville, Tenn. (© 2011 Microsoft Corporation/2010 NAVTEQ)Surveys show that over half of all working people have engaged in some sort of relationship with a co-worker. And according to a recent CareerBuilder survey, 31 percent of workers said their office romance has led to marriage. As taboo as dating a fellow employee can be, the fact is, many couples meet in the workplace.

Unless they work at the Putnam County Sheriff's Department in Tennessee.

Sheriff David Andrews has implemented a strict no-dating and no-marrying policy for the purpose of maintaining a "friendly but professional atmosphere" within the department.

The policy reads:

"Employees of the Putnam County Sheriff's Department are not allowed to date or marry one another. In the event employees wish to date one another, one of the parties must abandon his/her employment with the Putnam County Sheriff's Department."

Don't get any ideas, either. Casual flings aren't allowed.

"Romantic or sexual relations between employees at the Putnam County Sheriff's Department are inappropriate and will result in disciplinary action up to dismissal of either or both persons involved."

Sheriff's Chief Deputy Jacky Farley said the policy is meant to prevent workplace conflicts.

"These situations sometimes cause scheduling difficulties or result in conflicts that could get in the way of work," Farley told the Herald Citizen.

But there's a bit of a problem. Some of the employees at the Putnam Sherriff's Department are already involved in blossoming office romances. They will be affected by the new policy. Some of them have said they plan to challenge it in court.

Ashley Brightwell, a lawyer in Atlanta, explains that many workplaces realize that preventing office dating is futile, so they utilize love contracts. Brightwell told the Wall Street Journal:

"It used to be that many companies had strict prohibitions on office romances. Then they recognized that wasn’t going to work, and that no matter what the policies were, employees were going to get involved. That’s when the idea of a love contract came along. It’s a tool that employers use to protect themselves when an office romance goes sour."

So what happens when office romances go sour? According to both Brightwell and this article from the HR Specialist, scorned lovers often "allege that their former lover was a sexual harasser."

 So it's understandable that employers would want to get rid of the lovey-dovey business altogether, and legally, they can. But HR Specialist argues:

"…it probably isn't the wisest move. A 'no romance' policy could be nearly impossible to enforce and affect employees who are already involved in relationships with co-workers."

So the new policy might end up causing more problems in the Putnam Sherriff's Department than it's trying to prevent. Still, Farley says:

"We believe the new policy is legally acceptable and that it will help the department maintain a professional atmosphere."

What do you think? Should office romance be forbidden? Did you meet your partner at work?

Image: Map of Cookeville, Tenn. (© 2011 Microsoft Corporation/2010 NAVTEQ)

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Jun 22, 2012 5:36AM
lovers or best friends or the chef's favourites or little spies! I have workedin the same place as my husband four times and he had a top position in the company. as a result of people jealousies and colleagues plots and superiors who shrare the sheriff's view, I was dismissed unfairly once and had to resign three times for no reason other than being married to the boss! So you will be wondering why each time I renewed the experience? Well, I tried to be rational about it and thought I had always done a really good job, never counting my hours and being very dedicated. i never gossiped with anyone and never harmed anyone so each time, I just thought I had been victim of nasty colleagues and that in the next place, it would be more normal and would not happen. But it is amazing how much it annos everyone to have married people at work and especially the boss's wife even someone non political like I had always been and kind to everyone and thoughtful
Jun 22, 2012 4:48AM
...to get better workplaces, being allowed more time off without being questioned, better marks and payrises and in the end ever promtions. so spying for your chef can give you a lot of advantages and this may have nothing to do with a close relationship. so not allowing people to have affairs or romances or married couples at work makes no sense as then you would also have to prohibit all relationships at work, all talking between colleagues in order to avoid all dishonest promotions and favors, etc... a nice idea which would make working intolerable. the whole thing is unrealistic. you cannnot stop people from interacting and an emplyoyer should not have the legal right to interfere or say or do anything about his workers'private life whether with work colleagues or others. As long as a person does her or his work well, then it is nobody's business and above all not the employers.  and to conclude, married people at work are not any worse than 
Jun 22, 2012 4:27AM
tjbx3's comment  is ridiculous. In which way eating with  your husband or wife would make your work less efficient? This attitude is ridiculous. it would belike saying that if you talk and laugh with your colleagues during your lunch break, then you are being unprofessional!  Condemning married people who are working in the same workplace to this austere behaviour is totally unfair and makes no sense as people do have affairs at work and often women with men in higher positions, similarly I have noticed that at work many people tie friendships and gossip and plot with eacn other against other colleague to get so and so dismissed. For instance, some executives use lower  down collleagues to inform them on what their colleagues are doing.  In other words some people spy for their superior either because they are having an affair with them or most of tne time because they want to please their superior to get favours, good reports on their work, a better officepl
Jun 22, 2012 1:55AM

but they can still marry their cousins....guess u really do learn something new every day

Jun 21, 2012 6:03PM

Wow, she must have dumped your pathetic sorry rear and then got you fired khromag...

As far as your ignorant insult to other people on this post and your direct hit to me, you a obviously a pathetic loser like my husband.

As with what you probably choose as a "Sack Mate" like my ex, was actually less then what you may have cheated on and as with my ex, realized you made a major mistake, wanted back, then was told to take a hike.

Only idiots who have done that are as ignorantly angry as you are.

I on the other hand am now very happy with someone else and my ex has put on and weight and cannot find the "Happiness/Love" he thought was gone from us.

It is a shame too, and I feel for him, but that is what you get for your ignorance.

GOOD LUCK khromag (your name says it all) with you finding what you think you lost.

Jun 21, 2012 12:36AM

LoL  What a bunch of Whiny Losers...  I met my wife at my office... So suck it...


If I am doing my job and my relationship is not effecting my job, what did I say before.... Thats right ... suck it...


Thats why you lost your husband/wife to someone at the office is because you are a snively whiny baby... and the person they are with now is probably hotter also... LoL


Thats why you are where you are now... alone... Nope I didnt pay any alimony either...


So suck it...

Jun 20, 2012 8:07PM

In respose to united states of hypocrisy and Cindy Angiono (Cinziaaus)

First, I am a woman, second I was married for over twenty years, but have personally seen the wrath of "Theses Office Romances" when they go sour.

Even though I did lose my husband to one of these "Office Romances" I did keep my dignity through it all. However, I have personally seen the spouses of (both men and woman) cause such a scene, that both infidels are let go, alimony was more important and a deeper cut to him then having him loose his job.

Like i stated before, majority of these "Romances" end badly whether it involves cheaters or singles and that business, organization, whatever, DOES HAVE A RIGHT TO PROTECT THEIR INTEREST PERIOD!!!


Jun 20, 2012 7:39PM

In a perfect world where everyone just went to work and human emotions could be turned off this would be a great policy.  If this could be enforced all employers across the globe would implement this program.  The Sheriff's department should realize that this policy has been tried by many larger private companies who spent billions on a program just like this.  These policies failed and this Sheriff shall to.  No judge or jury can make this stick, because the doors it opens up are too great.


The department will spend more resources on legal battles regarding office romance then they will doing their actual job of public safety.

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