Workplace Romance Do’s and Dont's
By Joshua C. Black, Esq.
It’s almost Valentine’s Day and romance is top of mind for many.
As Americans, we devote a lot of time to our careers, so it's not out of the question to develop feelings for a colleague. But, as the old adage goes, think twice before you fish off the company pier.
Spending 40 hours a week with coworkers can lead to some great friendships, but it could also mean the lines between friendship and romance might get a little blurry. While you likely share a lot of the same interests with a coworker, there are a number of complications that can come from a workplace romance.
Dating a coworker can be risky for many reasons - not only do you have to worry about relationship drama affecting your job, but if things don’t work out well, you may have to deal with some pretty uncomfortable staff meetings for the foreseeable future.
If you are contemplating a workplace romance, here are a few things to consider before diving in:
Do your research first. Many companies have specific policies for office dating. Theses can range from prohibiting it completely to allowing consensual relationships between two people who are not in a manager-subordinate situation. Determine what is allowed at your organization and what protocol you need to follow before entering into a relationship.
Don’t date your supervisor – or subordinate. As if romantic workplace relationships aren’t complicated enough, it’s best to avoid dating someone who you report to, or who reports to you. This could give the perception of favoritism when things are going well or lead to a very uncomfortable work environment if the relationship goes south.
Keep it respectful. Be discreet and avoid PDA at work. No one wants to see their coworkers making out at the photocopier or knoodeling in the breakroom. It’s unprofessional and will most likely make others uncomfortable. Draw a distinct line between work and romance and be considerate to others in the workplace.
Don’t let feelings get in the way of doing your job. Putting your romance ahead of your job could cause serious issues with your employer. If you can't navigate both your job and relationship, move onto another employer or ask for a transfer within the organization. Make sure you prioritize a job well done during business hours, not your lovefest.
While romance might not be off limits at work, there is a thin line between flirty banter and sexual harassment in the workplace. Know what crosses the line and respect boundaries to avoid getting disciplined, fired, or worse, a potential sexual harassment lawsuit.
Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Sexual harassment occurs when one employee makes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and/or unwanted verbal or physical contact with another staffer.
Sexual harassment in the workplace can come in many forms. From unwanted jokes and vulgar language to sexual comments, unwanted touching, repeated requests for dates or not taking “no” for an answer, employees should always be aware of what constitutes an uninvited sexual advance. Employees who feel uncomfortable at work have an obligation to report any sexual harassment concerns to their supervisor, manager or Human Resources office.
If you feel you have been sexually harassed at your place of employment, or would like to speak with an Arizona employment attorney regarding your experiences, contact the Law Office of Joshua Black, PLC, at (623) 738-2225.