Most working adults spend a great deal of time around co-workers. Understandably, sometimes sparks fly and an employee develops romantic feelings toward someone he or she works with. If you have found yourself in this situation you may wonder, “Should I ask my co-worker out on a date?” Dating in the workplace is a controversial subject. While there may be some situations in which dating your co-worker results in no negative consequences, beginning a romantic relationship with a colleague at work can sometimes lead to accusations of sexual harassment.

Dating a Subordinate Can Result in Allegations of Quid Pro Quo Harassment

The two types of sexual harassment addressed in the law are quid pro quo sexual harassment and hostile work environment sexual harassment. Quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when a person of authority such as a boss, supervisor, or manager implies or outright suggests that he or she will provide work-related benefits if a subordinate employee submits to his or her sexual requests. What many people do not understand is that a boss can be accused of quid pro quo sexual harassment even if he or she never actually explicitly states that he or she will offer employment, continued employment, or work perks in exchange for sexual contact. You can be accused of quid pro quo sexual harassment even if a subordinate that you are dating assumes that sexual favors are being traded for work benefits.

Hostile work environment sexual harassment refers to a situation in which offensive or sexual remarks and behavior make a work environment so intolerable that the harassed individual cannot perform work duties. In order to meet the legal definition of sexual harassment, hostile work environment harassment must be “severe” or “pervasive.” Asking a co-worker out on a date once will not meet the definition of harassment. However, if you repeatedly ask a co-worker out, it could trigger a sexual harassment claim.

Follow the Policies and Procedures at Your Workplace

Many workplaces now have strict policies regarding sexual harassment. If you want to ask a co-worker out, the first thing you should do is learn about your employer’s policies regarding sexual harassment and dating other employees. Some companies require dating employees to sign a document acknowledging the romantic relationship. Other companies outright ban office romances. The best way to protect yourself from a sexual harassment claim is to follow your company’s rules concerning dating a co-worker.

Contact a St. Charles Sexual Harassment Lawyer

If you have been the victim of sexual assault at work, contact an experienced Wheaton sexual harassment attorney from MKFM Law. Call us today at 630-665-7300 to schedule a confidential consultation.

 

Sources:

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/how-to-ask-a-coworker-out-date_n_5a53ba3ce4b0efe47ebb8a05

https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/sexual_harassment.cfm