Sexual harassment — and how to deal with it — is well understood by most companies. But now new dangers are being recognized in the ways an office romance affects the people around it. “Hostile work environment” claims, and their financial costs, are just the start.
Should coworkers have sex with each other? Should employers try to stop them?
The answer to the first question is that the question isn’t worth answering–because office romance is inevitable anyway. The answer to the second is more interesting. And due to recent shifts in the legal climate, for companies, it’s also more scary.
There is a misunderstanding at the epicenter of the office romance debate, even as it attracts increasing scrutiny due to famous examples such as the recent episode involving CBS’s “Late Show With David Letterman” host. Contrary to some commonly misread signals, managers are not interested in stamping out employee dating. However, sexual relationships and romances change office dynamics in potentially problematic ways, presenting legal challenges such as allegations about sexual harassment and a hostile work environment, and those challenges need to be managed skillfully
This article explores the changing legal and managerial landscape regarding office romance, and explains what practices companies should take to avoid trouble.