When Blaise Pascal was just a teenager in seventeenth century France, he invented the first mechanical calculator.
Son of a tax collector in Rouen, perhaps Pascal’s interest in numbers and organization is not that unusual.
But Pascal applied his talent in mathematics in a variety of surprising ways.
At age 16, Pascal had already written a treatise on projective geometry and worked with Pierre de Fermat to develop theories in probability theory. Pascal was also an accomplished physicist.
However, Pascal is most likely remembered for his thoughts (Pensées) as a philosopher and mystic.
This month, albeit roughly 360 years earlier, Pascal had a mystical experience. He wrote down the date and from that point forward, always kept it on his person. The date, November 23, 1654, was found sewn into the coat that he was wearing on his death, writes the Guttenberg Project.
This conversion profoundly influenced Pascal’s future research. And, still with logic and statistics in mind, Pascal started to argue the existence of God.
Whether God does or does not exist—and assuming the infinite gain (heaven and reward) associated with the belief in God or infinite loss (hell and damnation) with the disbelief—Pascal claims a rational person should always live as though God exists. In the end, if God does not exist, such a person will risk minimal finite losses (certain pleasures, luxuries, etc.) whereas in the counterfactual case, such a person risks infinite perdition.
So, why are we discussing Pascal’s Wager? Well, lawyers, the same logic can be applied to the question: Do workplace dating policies reduce risk?
Office romances are highly pervasive.
“According to CareerBuilder’s 2012 annual office romance survey, 38 percent of respondents have dated a co-worker at least once in their career, and one-third of them ended up married,” writes a Workforce article.
Unfortunately, these office romances can lead to sexual harassment suits, claims of nepotism, and other liabilities for your firm.
Take a lesson from Above The Law reader whose windshield was smashed in by a colleague he dated (and whose chances of employment after his legal internship are now dubious at best). Define your workplace dating expectations and follow them yourself.
Whether it’s a zero-tolerance fire-able offence policy; a “love contract” where employees sign statements admitting an office relationship is consensual; or confidential disclosure where employees alert firm HR representatives of potential complications, define a policy. Circulate it. Enforce it.
Law firm professionals know best that there are always ways to shirk contractual obligations, terms of agreement, or policy requirements. But, implementing such policies is better than nothing at all and often works as a deterrent to litigation.
Think about Pascal’s Wager. If workplace dating policies don’t reduce legal liability risk, you’ve spent a minimal amount of time and effort implementing one.
However, if the liability does exist and policies deter or reduce this risk, then hammering out dating policies can substantially lower the costs of litigation.
Gossip about office romances? Learn how to cub this toxic talk with C4CM’s guide Effective Management of Workplace Gossip.
Need help drafting workplace policies? Bonus material includs sample social media politic and case studies.