Love, Self

The Rules On Relationships At Work

sex at work

In honor of recent work romance shenanigans, we wanted to explore what's legal, taboo and inadvisable in terms of sex, love and the office.

Between Oprah's flight crew debaucle and David Letterman's at-work affairs, looks like Hollywood could use some tips on dating in the workplace, too. While Oprah really had nothing to do with the alleged activities, the flight attendant who was fired for the misconduct is now suing Harpo, Oprah's production company, for $75,000. 

According to the Chicago Tribune, flight attendant Corrine Gehris says that a fellow flight attendant and a guest on Oprah's jet made false accusations against her and the pilot, Terry Pansing. (The two supposedly had sex while the plane was grounded and switching crews; Oprah and her guests were sleeping.) Joining the Mile High Club

Letterman, it turns out, did violate a CBS policy by having relations with multiple staffers. The policy is part of a contract that all CBS employees sign. So what does that mean for the late-night talk show host? Probably nothing, since no one—besides the guy who tried to blackmail a few million out of him—was professionally harmed. (We'll have to see what happens to his mistresses, however.)

Hollywood aside, dating a colleague (or boss!) is actually pretty common. A 2009 survey showed 40 percent of respondents have dated a coworker. And 34 percent of those dated a superior or someone of a higher-ranking position. The New Hook-Up Hotspot? Work!

Let's break it down:

Dating at the office. Somewhat-to-completely acceptable. While it's not illegal to date a coworker, companies have the right to institute a no-dating policy or require employees to sign a love contract (remember Jan and Michael’s from The Office? Disaster.) If the company has a policy and you don't know about it or you disregard it, you can be asked to make a choice.

Sex at the office. Just don't do it—grounded airplane or not. While it's not illegal (Nevada is one of the few states with an official law on sex at work...), organizations have the right to fire an employee for gross misconduct if they have been caught sexing it up on the desk, copier, elevator…you get the idea. Don't get naughty at the office. 10 Places To Have Sex Before You Die

Irene LaCota, President of specialty dating service It's Just Lunch, fills us in on relationship etiquette in the workplace:

1. Avoid all supervisor-subordinate relationships, even if that relationship wouldn’t technically violate company policies. There are just too many problems and negative perceptions with co-workers with this type of relationship.  And if the relationship doesn’t work out, it won’t be fun having to work with your ex-lover.

2. Keep quiet around others. Try to keep your relationship private as long as possible. Otherwise, coworkers will scrutinize the two of you and fuel the office rumor mill.

3. But communicate with each other. Before your relationship gets too serious, discuss the rules of the "partnership" so neither of you will misunderstand the other’s intentions and be hurt.

4. Keep it professional at ALL times at the office or on the road. Treat each other as co-workers at the office and not as romantic partners. No revealing emails. No kisses over the phone. Give each other some space. You don't need to be together all the time, especially at the office. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. 

But Ms. LoCota's best advice for workplace dating is to try to avoid it if possible. Says LaCota, "Your co-workers are a great resource for finding possible dates. Your best bet is to use them as your dating network, instead of dating them."

Tell us, have you ever dated a coworker?