Once deemed extremely taboo in the workplace, dating between coworkers is no longer swept under the rug as it used to be. This can be attributed to the fact that many companies have enacted policies to specifically address the proper means of handling such romances, and, if handled in a professional and appropriate manner, these interoffice relationships may not cause friction and lack of productivity amongst coworkers. Let us not forget, Barack and Michelle met on the job, so it may not be as bad of a look as some may believe it to be.
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A 2012 CareerBuilder survey found nearly 38% percent of workers have had at least one interoffice romance at one point of their career, although, according to Forbes Magazine, competing company Vault.com found nearly 59% percent of workers surveyed admitted to having a workplace relationship. Of those who dated at work, CareerBuilder found that, like the Obamas, 31 % said their office romances wound up leading to marriage. With numbers like this, companies could no longer turn a blind eye to secretive dalliances of employees.
The most common corporate policy addressing interoffice relationships deals specifically with romances between executives/managers and employees. Due to possible sexual harassment claims against a company and/or and executive or manager, many company policies require employees and managers to disclose their consensual relationship to Human Resources, and some companies have even gone as far as requiring said employees and supervisors to sign “Love Contracts” waiving liability of sexual harassment of the company. As a Love Contract may be deemed a bit excessive, most human resource departments only take up the task of keeping employees and executives apprised of guidelines of how to deal with interoffice relationships if they become a distraction and hinder the peace and productivity of an office environment.
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I have friends who have met their significant others at work, and a few who have gotten married, started families and continue to work with their coworker spouse. As with any new relationship, it is important to be cognizant of personality compatibility and weigh the pros and cons of dating someone, however, when dating may affect your work environment, it is most important to adhere to company policy and plain old common sense to keep business and personal separate.
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Rashida Maples, Esq. is Founder and Managing Partner of J. Maples & Associates (www.jmaplesandassociates.com). She has practiced Entertainment, Real Estate and Small Business Law for 9 years, handling both transactional and litigation matters. Her clients include R&B Artists Bilal and Olivia, NFL Superstar Ray Lewis, Fashion Powerhouse Harlem’s Fashion Row, KinderJam, LLC and Hirschfeld Properties, LLC.