Now that the average American is expected to spend every waking moment at work and people are marrying later, intraoffice romantic mingling is becoming commonplace. But with love comes the risk of the the sweet gone sour and the ensuing management nightmare of trying to keep complaining and infighting to a minimum among jilted exes. Enter the Love Contract— a document that employees who are knocking boots are increasingly expected to sign.
Office romances are sticky situations both for the people involved in them and for the employer. While in the past, businesses have adopted non-fraternization policies that outright banned romantic relationships between employees, those policies are nearly impossible to enforce and may open the company up to lawsuits. Instead of barring the practice, they just require employees to sign a contract announcing that they're totally mutually into the relationship and promise that the kissing and hugging and texting and stuff doesn't constitute harassment.
Forbes reports that a sample "Love Contract" might read as such:
(Name) and (Name) have notified the company that they entered into a consensual relationship on or about (date) and said relationship continues to this date. In addition, they have notified the Company of their marriage plans. Both acknowledge that their relationship has been and is completely welcome and consensual. (Name) and (Name) further acknowledge that they believe this consensual relationship was not and is not harassment, sexual or otherwise, nor was it in violation of any federal, state, or local law, regulation, or ordinance.
Better hope this isn't signed in a state where sodomy is still illegal, because if there are any blow jobs involved, they just broke the law.
One expert interviewed by Forbes was quick to point out that this doesn't fully protect the company from any future claims of sexual harassment; in one incident, a woman who was pushed by her male supervisor/boyfriend to sign the documentation later said she was coerced. And it seems that this type of document could double as a "get out of trouble free" card for someone who decided to act in a threatening or harassing manner after the relationship ended. Signing the Official "I Shat Where I Eat" Certification may be embarrassing and awkward for the individuals involved as well— and I can't see how signing the document benefits anyone but the company. Unless signing the contract comes with a coupon for one free hour of uninterrupted boning in the office supply room, there doesn't seem to be much incentive for employees to participate.
At any rate, office relationships just got weirder, and now we know that love contracts aren't just for plotlines of The Office anymore— they're real.