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Startup Problems: Too Much Sex in Office Stairwells

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By Christopher Coble, Esq. on February 29, 2016 10:14 AM

One of the most important tasks for every startup is instilling the king of corporate culture that defines your business; an ethos that can guide your fledgling company through good times and bad; the defining characteristic that sets you apart, and hopefully above, the rest.

And there are so many ways to create an office culture: diversity celebrations, Chief Happiness Officers, and sending the entire staff to telecommute from Cambodia. Or, you can email your staff reminding them "not use the stairwells to smoke, drink, eat, or have sex."

Culture Shock

Zenefits, a startup specializing in human resources software, has faced growing pains normal to any small business getting itself off the ground with a few hundred million in venture capital and a $4.5 billion valuation: pesky state insurance regulators, pesky criminal investigations, and, apparently, pesky employee trysts all over the office.

According to an email to staff obtained by The Wall Street Journal, Zenefits is banning alcohol in the office and asking employees to stop having sex at the office after "[c]igarettes, plastic cups filled with beer, and several used condoms were found in the stairwell."

"Our culture and tone have been inappropriate for a highly regulated company," said new Zenefits CEO David Sacks when introducing the alcohol ban. "We will find other ways for employees to socialize and have fun."

Just Say No

It should be obvious, but just in case it isn't, you should discourage employee sex at the office. Office sex parties are a particularly bad idea, and any kind of "locker room" office culture is a good way to get your business sued. Employees are only human and you may not be able to stand in the way of love and sexual attraction. But there are ways to set a more positive and healthy example and keep stairwell sex at the office to a minimum.

If you need help improving your office culture without getting sued, you can contact an experienced employment law attorney near you.

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