Office Affairs

Before you make a move on that hottie in the cubicle across from the hall, consider the potential pitfalls of an office affair.

Sexual Harassment
Your office affair could be a direct breach of a sexual harassment policy. Further, when it’s over you may have exposed yourself to an allegation of workplace sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is not limited to the confines of the workplace; it can take place on that business trip to Vancouver, the holiday party, or after work drinks. Even if the relationship is consensual (if it’s not consensual you have bigger problems), sexual harassment can lead to discipline up to and including a just cause termination.

Personal Consequences
At some point, almost all office affairs end. If you are the “dumper” or the “dumpee,” do you really want to see your ex at work after the affair has fizzled? It can hurt your productivity, and your career will suffer. If you’re married, an office affair can be disastrous to your reputation both inside and outside the workplace (especially if your partner finds out).

Avoid the Superior/Subordinate Power Imbalance
No matter how hot and flirtatious your coworker is, avoid an office affair with a subordinate of any level at all costs. The alleged power imbalance can lead to an allegation that the subordinate was pressured into the relationship by the superior (true or not, the damage is done).

Be Careful Before you Text
E-mail, texting and Facebook are handy forms of communication. However, the messages sent on these services can easily be misinterpreted (a compliment could be interpreted as sexual harassment), the communications can be monitored by your employer and they could provide all the evidence required for potential discipline for breaching company policy.

Image courtesy of bthomso on Flickr.

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