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With February 14th quickly approaching, employers are no doubt considering whether or not to hold some sort of Valentine’s Day festivity, whether it be a party, themed game, or chocolate exchange. The temptation to acknowledge the holiday in some form is understandable, given that a good employer is constantly looking for ways to boost employee engagement and office moral. After all, organizations with highly engaged employees outperform those with low employee moral by 202 percent. Hosting any holiday themed event or employee activity may seem like an easy opportunity to boost morale; however, as far as Valentine’s Day is concerned, a closer look at the legal landscape and the reality of workplace relationships should cause employers to think twice before celebrating this romantically-charged holiday.

Foremost, employers should know that Cupid Day shenanigans in the workplace have spawned a plethora of litigation. Take for example, a case in the Southern District involving a secretary who received an inappropriate Valentine’s Day card from her boss and upon complaining, was threatened with loss of her vacation days. Gallagher v. Delaney, 139 F.3d 338, 1998 U.S. App. LEXIS 5056, 76 Fair Empl. Prac. Cas. (BNA) 700. Or a California case involving a man who was demoted after allegedly gifting his boss a stuffed animal, chocolates, and a romantic greeting card. Phan v. CSK Auto, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 121457, 2012 WL 3727305. These and several other cases demonstrate that Cupid’s arrow can often miss its mark and have unwanted consequences in the workplace. It is precisely for this reason that employers generally try to limit romantic and sexual interactions among employees.

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