Dating in the workplace: Is it kosher?

Attraction can come from anywhere in many different ways and forms.

We’re all attracted to our friends for some reason. Maybe we have the same tastes or are complete opposites that balance each other out.

But what happens when you and the person you’re attracted to work together?

The rules of this vary from workplace to workplace. All work environments and employers have unique policies. Generally, managers have some common threads when it comes to mixing business and pleasure.  

Most of the time, as was my case when I worked at the Hutchinson Mall 8 Theatre some years ago, it was tolerated but frowned upon. They made it very clear that it was only tolerated with associates that were on the same level.

If two “associates” decided to start seeing one another romantically, that was more acceptable. It was not acceptable for a manager and an associate to date for several reasons.

The first was because of the power-dynamic issue. In the case of workplace ethics and liability laws, such as the potential for sexual harassment lawsuits if the relationship went sour between the two individuals, there may be claims of an abuse of power, manipulation or the manager taking advantage of their subordinate.

Furthermore, on the opposite side of that same coin, there is the potential risk of that manager doing favors and playing favorites toward the subordinate he/she was dating.

Another potentially negative consequence is that, in most cases with the manager, he or she may not be taken seriously or have the respect of the other workers any longer. Other associates may undermine the authority of the manager, and the manager’s colleagues may think that he/she is dating this person simply to be boastful or, for some reason, to gain an advantage over the others.

Basically, reputations can be at stake with workplace dating.

One final reprimand of dating in the workplace is, as the saying goes, to “leave your personal life at the door.” That certainly becomes much harder to do when your personal life comes to work with you.

If a fight had ensued before, this has the potential to create drama at work, no work gets accomplished and the whole environment suffers.

Ask these two questions before becoming involved with a fellow employee:

Do I see a connection with this person outside of work?

Is it worth my reputation or even my job if something goes wrong?