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Employee Dating Guidelines

Employee Dating Guidelines

Before you ask the co-worker in the next cubicle out for a date, first check to see if your company has an employee dating policy. While there are no federal or state laws that prohibit employee dating, there are no laws preventing employers from forbidding employee dating; especially between managers and their direct reports. Employee dating is more detrimental in certain occupations than others, so check to see if any company policies exist prior to asking your fellow co-worker out to the movies.

"No means no!" One more time: "no" means "no!" Do not repeatedly ask the same co-worker out for a date. If the co-worker you are interested in tells you that he/she is not interested in going out with you, do not continue to ask him/her out on a date.

Develop an office relationship before you develop a romantic relationship. Take the time to learn as much as you can about the co-worker whom you are planning to date. Is he or she related to the boss? Is he or she already in a relationship? Is the co-worker prone to gossip and tells his/her personal life to anyone who will listen? After you develop an office relationship; ask him/her out for a business lunch date prior to a real date. A business lunch will help you judge if asking the coworker out for a romantic date is a good idea.

Realize that in reality relationships do not work out like they do on TV. If your dating relationship ends on a sour note, you will still have to work with the co-worker. For this reason, it is important to start any relationship out as slow as possible. A world-wind relationship is only likely to have devastating ramifications for your career.

Agree not to flirt at work. After you and your co-worker are dating, agree to set up relationship rules for the workplace. Nothing makes co-workers feel more jealous or insecure than to know that two employees have the "hots" for each other. So agree not to flirt at work, not to send e-mail love notes, and not to inform your co-workers or management until you both agree that it is the proper time.

Develop open communication. When you are dating a coworker you have what is called a "dual relationship." A dual relationship means that you have two different types of relationships (business and romantic) with the same person. It is this dual relationship quality that can make employee dating potentially conflictual and sometimes downright explosive! So, it is important that you talk and listen to each other`s feelings about your new dual relationship. Even if you do not plan on seeing each other after the first date, still talk with each other about any possible workplace entanglements that could potentially cause conflict.

Do not be afraid to talk about the topic of sexual harassment. Agree ahead of time that if either party starts to feel harassed that it will be openly discussed, and that either party is free to terminate the relationship if any type of harassment develops. Sexual harassment occurs when an individual is discriminated against because he/she will not comply with unwanted sexual requests, must endure a hostile work environment, or is discriminated against because of special treatment given to a co-worker who complies with sexual requests.

If you are a manager or have a high-ranking position within the company, you will need to inform your employer that you are dating a fellow co-worker, but first read and familiarize yourself with your company`s policies on employee dating. If the employee you are dating is your direct report or you are responsible for his/her performance reviews, promotions, work assignments, or pay raises; you will need to transfer those responsibilities to a different party. If you are a co-worker dating another co-worker, there is no reason for you to inform your employer in most occupations and circumstances. However, there may be exceptions in certain occupations to inform your employer, so make sure you check your company employee dating policies.

Once the dating secret is out, which usually occurs faster then you want, be prepared to confirm the rumor with your employer. Tell your employer that you plan to keep your relationship professional at work, will not participate in tasks where a conflict of interest may develop, and will inform your employer if either dating party starts to feel that he or she is being sexually harassed.

These guidelines should help keep you from being accused of sexual harassment and make your employer feel more comfortable about employee dating.

Happy Working,

Gary Vikesland, MA LP CEAP

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