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Friday, February 17, 2012

Romance in the Workplace More Open

Tommy Eden, Attorney

A February 9th survey from CareerBuilder finds that 38 percent of employees have dated a co-worker at least once, and 31 percent of workplace romances have made it all the way to the altar. The survey of 7,780 U.S. employees found that 28 percent of amorous employees dated someone at a higher rung on the corporate ladder, and 18 percent dated their bosses. The most romantic industries, the survey found, are hospitality (47 percent of employees have dated a co-worker), financial services (45 percent), transportation and utilities (43 percent), information technology (40 percent), and health care (38 percent).

How Many Dated the Boss? While the majority of relationships developed between workers in comparable job levels, 25 percent of workers who dated a co-worker said they have dated someone above them in the company hierarchy, and 13 percent admitted to dating their boss.

How Much Does Your Job Factor into Your Love Life? One-in-four workers (25 percent) reported that what someone does for a living influences whether they would date that person. Five percent of workers said someone broke up with them because their job required too many hours at the office, they didn't make enough money or the person didn't like their line of work.

Where Do Office Romances Begin? Social settings outside of the office were cited most often in regard to workers connecting on a romantic level. Running into each other outside of work (15 percent), happy hours (14 percent), late nights at work (9 percent) and at lunch or a company holiday party (7 percent) were among the most popular catalysts for dating co-workers.

Are Relationships Better Kept Secret? Most workers who have had office romances said they were open about their dating situation, while 30 percent reported they had to keep the relationship under wraps.

Common Sense Counsel: For the employee, whether you are dating someone higher-up or a colleague at the same level, office romances are always tricky. It is important to know your company's dating policy and critical that you stay professional and draw a boundary line between your personal life and the workplace. For employers, include in your Conflict of Interest Policy that supervisors must disclose if they are in a relationship in the workplace and prohibit anyone from working under the supervision of someone in which they are in a relationship, and by all means have a legally compliant harassment prevention policy and training. A bad office romance can turn into a nightmare harassment case. The best advice on office romance came from one of my law school professors ”don’t get your honey where you get your money.”

Tommy Eden is a Lee County native, an attorney with the local office of Capell & Howard, P.C., a member of the ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law and serves on the Board of Directors for the East Alabama SHRM Chapter. He can be contacted at or 334-501-1540 or