Robert Barbee, a former national sales manager for Household Automotive Finance Corp. Barbee didn't directly supervise Ms. Tomita and worked in a different location; he had tried to keep his relationship with her completely separate from work. He claimed his firing violated his right to privacy. The Price of Passion If you are having an office romance and you can answer yes to any of the following, watch out. You could be subject to a reprimand, transfer or even firing.
Are you involved with a subordinate or a boss? Is your lover assigned to the same work team? Is your affair hurting your job performance? Are you sneaking out of the office for trysts? Have you displayed affection in front of co-workers or clients? Will you be able to perform on the job if you break up? Could your relationship raise charges of favoritism?
In November, however, a California appeals court sided with management, whose lawyers argued the relationship created a potential conflict of interest. Barbee has since married Ms. Tomita and is working elsewhere, says his attorney in the case, David Strauss of San Diego. So far, few companies offer explicit guidelines on office dating, preferring less-formal oversight. Of those, most merely prohibit managers from dating subordinates. Some employers also bar romance among peers on the same work team.
The Princeton Review, New York, has 40 couples on staff who met and married there. While employee dating is accepted, "the big no-no is, not within your work group," says Linda Nessim-Rubin, executive vice president, human resources. Romance changes the dynamics of team relationships, she says. Generally, it's up to employees to figure out where to draw the line. Should office affairs be kept secret?
That depends partly on the culture of your workplace. It may be futile to try to remain undercover if you work in an open, informal office culture, where people work most of their waking hours, says Jennifer Howze, an editor in London for iVillage UK, who has written about her own office romances. Co-workers can get all "wrapped up in the drama and intrigue," and lose a lot of work time trying to figure out what's going on, she says. When she once tried to date a co-worker in secret, a friend at work who caught her talking with her partner discovered the affair.
Howze says the friend told her. Garai is so mindful: He met his wife, Susan Pravda, at the office many years ago and says they made some early mistakes. The two occasionally disagreed on staffing decisions and found themselves competing for the best associates or disagreeing about assignments. Friendships with some co-workers were frayed when they got caught in the middle, Mr.
Now, he and Ms. You would feel personally betrayed if they took it. They would be resentful if they didn't take it because of this relationship. No one would ever have a "gripe session" about the company with them. No one would trust them with any confidence, believing and rightfully so they were more loyal to you than anyone else. I'm sure you're the world's greatest boss, but running a business means making your employees unhappy in order to satisfy your customers.
That's why you have to pay employees in the first place. Would you avoid giving them difficult assignments or "problem" customers in order to safeguard your relationship. Maybe not consciously, but it would happen. Your interest is always late, but you cut them some slack because you took them out the evening before and you feel it's partially your fault. Bob isn't getting a fair shake. Look at it from the relationship side, and not just the company side.
Now, the only way to fix this is to not work at the same company. Who has to leave and who gets to stay? Who gets to pick? In your case, you and the company are the same thing, but not so in most situations. Say I'm a rock-star senior salesman, been in the biz 20 years and have 5 or 6 million in annual sales that I bring in. You're an inside sales rep who answers to me supporting my customers.
We get serious, and it becomes a problem in the workplace. You would have a hard time finding another job in a slow economy, but I can hop over to "Brand X" and bring at least 2 million in sales with me. Brand X says, "Great.
Getting Fired for Dating a Co-Worker: Office Romance Comes Under Attack
Monster at Work
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