In a better scenario, coworkers would find it easier to claim that an employee received preferential treatment from a supervisor he or she is dating.In a poorer scenario, the relationship would end badly, one of the employees could claim that the relationship was non-consensual, or that sexual harassment existed.
In such situations, a supervisor employee could be fired for violating an employer's policy against dating subordinates because the employer's interest in avoiding conflicts of interest in the workplace may outweigh the supervisor employee's right to privacy concerning the romantic relationship with the subordinate employee.
As a California employee, you cannot be fired solely because you are dating a co-worker.
As a result, many employees find themselves interested in a fellow co-worker and wonder if they are allowed to date their co-workers without getting into trouble, or worse - fired.
But can you be fired for dating a co-worker in California?
Enforcing these policies can take their toll on a company. Earlier this year, Best Buy's chief executive, Brian Dunn, stepped down after an investigation by the board discovered he had shown "extremely poor judgment" with a 29-year-old female employee.
Just last month, Gary Friedman, the chief executive of Restoration Hardware, stepped down in the middle of the company's public offering. A couple years ago, Hewlett-Packard's chief executive, Mike Hurd, resigned amid accusations of falsifying expense reports to hide a personal relationship with an independent contractor.
When a workplace romance sours, it can expose the company to increased liability, since the connection between alleged actors is easier to establish--essentially giving the plaintiff some good ammunition for his or her case.
Relationships between supervisors and subordinates create even more potential problems.
Hospitality, Financial Services, Transportation and Utilities, Information Technology, and Health Services all topped the list as having higher than average office dating.