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Romantic Relationships in the Workplace

By on Sep 1, 2019 in Human Resources | 0 comments

Romantic Relationships in the Workplace by Maggie Johnson     When two people spend a lot of time together, a romantic relationship may develop between them.  In a recent survey by Namely, 40 percent of the survey’s participants indicated that they’d had a romantic relationship with a co-worker, with five percent of them having had a romantic relationship with their boss or a direct report.   A 2017 CareerBuilder study showed 41 percent of professionals have dated a co-worker with 30 percent of office romances resulting in marriage.  While a blooming romance may be a happy thing, in the workplace, it can spell big trouble!  For a couple working alongside each other, and who are engaged in a romantic relationship, here are just three issues that could spring from that situation: Office gossip and some teasing of the couple may seem harmless at first, but could lead to detrimental consequences.  These include negatively affecting employee morale, false and reckless statements about the couple, unprofessional behavior, and a host of other concerns.  This only gets more unpleasant if the romance breaks up, with one of the former lovebirds feeling wronged; then, employees “take sides.”   Before you know it, the workplace could suffer from undesirable conflicts with work affected and productivity taking a nosedive! An office romance between a supervisor and his or her direct report can be career-busting for the boss!  The supervisor’s other subordinates may see favoritism; where it might not exist, nevertheless, may result in employees’ claims of disparate treatment and unfairness.  Because of the unevenness of power between a boss and the subordinate, the romance could easily be interpreted as the supervisor’s coercion of his romantic partner and cause allegations of a hostile work environment, sexual harassment, and worse! Even if an office affair begins with a consensual relationship, it can still end up in court with claims of sexual harassment.  As examples, in both Gerald v. Univ. of Puerto Rico and Green v. Administrators of the Tulane Educational Fund, a consensual sexual relationship occurred between the supervisor and subordinate.  In both cases, after the relationships ended, the subordinates were subjected to continued sexual harassment by their supervisors, and in both cases, the courts found for the subordinate...

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