Guidelines for Valentine’s Day Gifts Among Co-Workers: Just Say No

heartNot sure what’s appropriate and gift for the office tomorrow? Does excessive gift giving result in unwelcome romantic gestures? Here’s a hint — avoid exchanges with co-workers altogether.

According to a piece on The Society of Human Resources Management, it’s up to human resources to set guidelines regarding gifts, cards and romantic displays for colleagues.

If you’re a gift giver, per the piece it’s recommended to give very small presents to everybody. Keep in mind potential harassment issues at play. If you give a gift to a specific gender, women can come forward and claim harassment and then there’s also a potential claim by men of gender discrimination.

In fact, according to a SHRM survey, more than twice as many employers have policies on office romances compared to 2005. Policy or not, some people simply discourage any type of Valentine’s Day exchange on the holiday.

Leslie Wallis, labor attorney at Ogletree Deakins, told SHRM a manager gave someone on his team a card with a cartoon of someone’s bare bottom. Although he thought the card was cute, as for the receiver? Not so much. He wanted to thank her for help on a project but it wasn’t the most appropriate way to express gratitude.

The company settled the woman’s lawsuit but Wallis discourages Valentine’s Day presents at the office, no matter how large or small.

Here’s why — Valentine’s Day is romantic. End of story.

She told SHRM, “Why are you giving a gift? This is a romantic day, so you’re starting with the premise that any gift on this day may have broader meaning than, say, if it was given on the 4th of July.”