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DuPage County sexual harassment attorneysMost working adults spend a great deal of time around co-workers. Understandably, sometimes sparks fly and an employee develops romantic feelings toward someone he or she works with. If you have found yourself in this situation you may wonder, “Should I ask my co-worker out on a date?” Dating in the workplace is a controversial subject. While there may be some situations in which dating your co-worker results in no negative consequences, beginning a romantic relationship with a colleague at work can sometimes lead to accusations of sexual harassment.

Dating a Subordinate Can Result in Allegations of Quid Pro Quo Harassment

The two types of sexual harassment addressed in the law are quid pro quo sexual harassment and hostile work environment sexual harassment. Quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when a person of authority such as a boss, supervisor, or manager implies or outright suggests that he or she will provide work-related benefits if a subordinate employee submits to his or her sexual requests. What many people do not understand is that a boss can be accused of quid pro quo sexual harassment even if he or she never actually explicitly states that he or she will offer employment, continued employment, or work perks in exchange for sexual contact. You can be accused of quid pro quo sexual harassment even if a subordinate that you are dating assumes that sexual favors are being traded for work benefits.

Hostile work environment sexual harassment refers to a situation in which offensive or sexual remarks and behavior make a work environment so intolerable that the harassed individual cannot perform work duties. In order to meet the legal definition of sexual harassment, hostile work environment harassment must be “severe” or “pervasive.” Asking a co-worker out on a date once will not meet the definition of harassment. However, if you repeatedly ask a co-worker out, it could trigger a sexual harassment claim.

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Illinois sexual harassment attorneysMany people spend more time with their co-workers than they do with their friends and family. Understandably, sparks between colleagues can fly and Cupid’s arrow can strike even at work. So, what happens when an employee wants to ask a co-worker on a date? Sexual harassment issues have recently taken center stage in the United States and in many other places around the world. Men and women alike are saying “no more” to employment discrimination and workplace sexual harassment. If you want to start a romantic relationship with a co-worker, there are several things you should keep in mind so that you can avoid sexual harassment allegations.

Find Out Your Company’s Policy on Office Relationships

Research shows that about one out of every three adults in the U.S have been in or are currently engaged in an office romance. While romantic or sexual relationships between co-workers have always been slightly taboo, they are even more dangerous in the #MeToo era. Because of this, many companies have instituted strict rules about office relationships. Some companies ban romantic relationships between co-workers altogether, and many others have procedures for reporting the relationship to the human resources department. Although you may wish to keep your relationship private for personal reasons, violating your company’s policy regarding office romances is a risky career move. If you keep the relationship a secret, it could make the situation look much more sinister than it really is.

Relationships Between Supervisors and Subordinates Spell Major Trouble 

A relationship between a boss and a subordinate is the most concerning type of office relationship. Even if the relationship or sexual activity is consensual, the relationship can cause a serious conflict of interest. If you are a boss and you are interested in asking a subordinate out on a date, consider this: You do not have to explicitly say you will trade sexual favors for workplace perks in order to be accused of sexual harassment. Quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when an employee in a supervisor or boss position uses his or her authority to gain sexual contact from a subordinate. If a subordinate assumes that going on a date or agreeing to sexual contact with you will benefit him or her at work, the situation could come dangerously close to illegal sexual harassment.

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From our law office in Wheaton, IL the family law and civil litigation law attorneys of Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick and Mirabella, represent businesses and individual clients throughout the western suburbs of Chicago, Illinois including Wheaton, Naperville, Oak Brook, Glen Ellyn, Carol Stream, Lombard, Downers Grove, Burr Ridge, Lisle, Elmhurst, Oakbrook Terrace, Winfield, Woodridge, Warrenville and throughout DuPage, Kane and Kendall Counties.

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In honor of the passing of our founder, Joseph F. Mirabella, Jr., our offices are closed Friday, January 31, 2020.I Agree