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Why are supervisor/employee relationships a bad idea?

Dating in the workplace isn't sexual harassment on its own, and many people who are on the same level enjoy healthy relationship status while working together. That's often true with two workers from separate teams or departments are dating. But many companies frown on romantic involvement between supervisors and their workers -- some even forbid it in policies.

While a supervisor dating a worker isn't automatically sexual harassment, the possibility of harassment is high once people get romantically involved. Even well-meaning supervisors could unintentionally harass workers if they have romantic feelings for them that are not returned or feel angry about the way a relationship ended.

Even if both parties behave themselves with utmost composure in the workplace during and after a relationship, other problems can arise. If word gets out about the relationship, other employees might believe the person dating the boss is being treated with favoritism. If you are the person dating the boss, you might then experience harassment from others because of your involvement.

Dating and then breaking up with the boss could put you in a position where you feel like you are facing retaliation for your romantic actions, and that retaliation is impacting your job. When someone has hurt feelings and he or she has power over you in the workplace, it can be a bad combination.

While it's probably best to avoid romantic entanglements with the boss, it's also true that the heart wants what it wants. Things happen, and a relationship -- or lack of one -- is not an excuse for unprofessional or illegal behavior on the part of a boss. If you feel like you are being retaliated or discriminated against because of a relationship or emotional tension in the workplace, you have legal options.

Source: Forbes, "Is It Sexual Harassment If I Date My Employee?," Liz Ryan, accessed Nov. 27, 2015

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