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by Vault Careers | March 10, 2009

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An older manager was a student in one of my business law classes. He told a story that he, as the manager of a division, was added to a sexual harassment lawsuit brought against the company and which involved a workplace romance. Two employees in his division had become involved in a torrid affair, and both were married at the time to others. The woman's husband discovered the affair; the woman, in order to save her marriage, lied by saying that her relationship had been forced on her by the other man. Although the now ex-lovers were coworkers, the woman's husband found an attorney that took the case and sued everyone in sight. The lawsuit was settled for a "low amount of money, far from what they were asking," according to the manager. However, he was furious that this could have even happened.

Lawsuits happen from work, whether you try to avoid them or not. And people lie and don't tell the truth-although most of us aren't this way. Lawsuits occur, whether they're due to a broken office romance or a worker that doesn't feel that he/she was treated right.

Interestingly enough, the great amount of lawsuits by a far margin brought against companies are due to alleged racial, religious, age, and even ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) reasons than for sexual harassment. In fact, lawsuits arising from the workplace and alleging sexual harassment (4/5ths of these involve straightforward allegations of harassment and do not involve a broken office romance) are in last place-as to the numbers brought and damage exposure to the company.

~There is a risk in anything that you do-whether it is trying to find another job (your supervisor discovers that first), gain a promotion (you don't), or have an office romance (you break up). Bad things do happen, as do the good. Use your commonsense when deciding whether to have a romance or not with someone; be sure that they are the type of person you like and that they are eligible (not married to anyone else). Watch the office signs, because if someone is "bossy" at work, you can bet your bottom dollar that they will be that way at home.

Remember there is a risk to anything that you try, even with office romances. However, you won't succeed at anything if you don't try in the first place, whether you want more money or a successful relationship.

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Filed Under: Workplace Issues
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