If indeed that’s how your company does it, that’s sex discrimination and is illegal.
(Or at least it’s illegal if your company is big enough to be covered by federal discrimination statutes — meaning that it has 15 or more employees.) As for the question of whether they need reasonable suspicion, employers don’t generally need “proof” before taking disciplinary action against employees in matter, but because the issue of romantic relations is a sticky one, I turned to employment attorney Bryan Cavanaugh to weigh in.
He says: “As for reasonable suspicion, the law does not impose any sort of standard that the employer must meet before taking action.
What’s not legal, though, is to always have women be the ones who have to leave.
The employer can act on its suspicions and circumstantial evidence.” This is basically the same as if your employer suspected you of violating any other policy (or even doing something they didn’t like, whether prohibited by a policy or not): If, for instance, your employer suspected you of being rude to clients or watching too much You Tube at your desk, they wouldn’t need to present you with evidence. In this case, though, Bryan goes on to say that they’d still be wise to only act if they have solid evidence: “Acting on flimsy suspicions would only serve to alienate employees, lower morale because they fear ‘big brother’ is prying into their personal lives, and risk losing good and loyal employees without a good reason.
If an employee was let go under this policy without solid evidence and that employee came back and alleged the real reason for the discharge was gender, race, age, etc., then the employer would have a weak defense since its ‘legitimate business reason’ for the termination was so flimsy.” So there are the facts on legality. From the employer’s side, there are all kinds of reasons not to want couples in your organization — but banning dating upon penalty of firing is a very old-fashioned policy and out of touch with how most modern workplaces operate.
(And that’s not a loaded question; you can certainly decide for plenty of legitimate reasons that you do.) But if you decide that you do, then yeah, I’d avoid hanging out with your male coworker socially, unless you’re prepared to potentially lose your job over it.
Two of my coworkers have warned me to be careful, as there have just been rumors of people in the past possibly having relations and the woman was always the one to be terminated.It is indeed legal to prohibit dating between coworkers (with a few exceptions, such as in California, where courts have ruled that the state constitution provides broader privacy protection in employment matters).