Despite the existence of entire television shows centered around office dating relationships, some businesses will prohibit dating between employees. Even if it is not prohibited, it may be frowned upon. The reason that is often given is that the employer is worried that this will lead to sexual harassment.
But is simply dating or flirting with someone in the office an example of harassment? Let’s take a look at why businesses are sometimes concerned about this.
Power dynamics may come into play
One potential issue is that there can be a power difference between two employees. This could cause one employee to feel like they are being harassed or pressured. For instance, if someone was asked out by a coworker, they may feel like they could say yes or no. But if they were asked out by a supervisor, a manager or even their boss, then they may feel like they have no option but to go on a date with that person. They could be worried about being fired or simply harming their position in the workplace.
Repeated instances can lead to harassment
Additionally, when someone asks another person out in the workplace, it’s not automatically harassment. But if that individual declines their request for a date, and they continue to ask them repeatedly, then it may become harassment. Simply telling employees that they are not allowed to date each other to begin with is often seen as a way for businesses to avoid these complications.
Have you faced harassment?
If you feel that you have faced sexual harassment in the workplace, it’s very important to understand exactly what legal steps you can take.