Understanding the legal risks of office romance

With the amount of time Americans spend at work on a weekly basis, there’s no surprise when office relationships spring up. According a 2013 survey, 39 percent of workers admitted to having an office fling at least once.
It would certainly be nice if every office romance ended in a great, fulfilling and long-lasting relationship. However, for myriad reasons, that’s unlikely. In fact, the opposite usually occurs, leaving people hurt and disgruntled. Further, when romance sparks up at the office, there are some legal risks for both employees and employers.

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1. Supervisors dating subordinates: It is highly advisable for managers, bosses and supervisors to avoid romantic involvement with underlings. You don’t want to create a conflict of interests or the perception that one person is getting favorable treatment because they are sleeping with the boss. Also, there is the risk of promotions and raises being compromised by the status of your relationship.
2. Sexual harassment: One person may think they are making polite advances or reciprocating perceived interest, while the other may think they are being harassed. If you aren’t certain of how your advances will be received, it may be best to steer clear of even going down that road and potentially putting your job at risk.
3. Extramarital affairs: Does anyone remember Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinski? One of the worst possible things that can happen is for an affair to kindle in your office. It’s likely to end terribly. Plus, if you are involved in ending a marriage, you may be brought into court – leading to public and office shame.
4. Hostile work environment: Breakups, almost by definition, aren’t easy. Some people handle them better than others. A messy end to your office romance could lead to one or both of you creating an uncomfortable and even hostile work environment for both of you and others around you.
Team Law is one of the leading employment law practices in the state of New Jersey. If you’ve been discriminated against, treated unfairly or forced to work in a hostile environment, you may have cause to take legal action. Contact us today to discuss your case.

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