Many 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.