Be My Office Valentine

Feb 12 2014 - Harassment, Training - Gail Cecchettini Whaley

The office romance results are in! Fifty-six percent of business professionals surveyed said they have participated in some type of romantic relationship in the workplace, according to Vault.com’s 2014 Office Romance Survey.

Trouble for Employers
That percentage probably doesn’t surprise a lot of employers, but some of the survey’s results should raise a huge red flag. California employers should know that they can be held strictly liable for the sexual harassment of a subordinate by a supervisor.

But the Vault survey results show that dating a subordinate was not uncommon:

  • 20 percent of women and 9 percent of men said they have dated a supervisor
  • 25 percent of men and 10 percent of women said they have dated a subordinate)

The results of the 2014 survey also show that some people take the phrase “workplace hookup” literally: 32 percent of respondents admitted to having a tryst in the office, with 3 percent reporting having been caught in the act.

Equal Opportunity
Men and women are equally likely to engage in an office romance, the survey found: 55 percent of men surveyed said they participated in some type of workplace relationship while 56 percent of women surveyed have done the same.

But things get a little different when considering the types of relationships men and women had with colleagues:

  • 19 percent of men reported instances of “random hookups” with colleagues, compared to 12 percent of women
  • 17 percent of women report that office romances led to “long-term relationships,” compared to just 11 percent of men

Office Spouses
When asked about platonic workplace relationships, women are more likely than men to have a “work spouse.” Of those surveyed, 38 percent said they had a “work husband” while only 27 percent had a “work wife.”

Survey participants also shared some details about those relationships:

  • “I definitely have an office husband – he’s my regular lunch buddy, confidant, and sounding board. Fortunately I’ve also become good friends with his actual wife!”
  • “I had an office ‘husband’ and then he turned into my long-term boyfriend. We have been dating for over 2 years :)”
  • “I used to have an office wife until it became a romantic interest that turned south. Now I have an office ‘ex-wife.’”

Do It Again
The number of men and women who said they would probably participate in another office romance is close to the same, with 70 percent of men saying they would do it again and 62 percent of women saying they would pursue another workplace relationship.

For the complete story, visit Vault’s website.

As California employers know, state law requires harassment prevention training for all supervisors within six months of a person being promoted to a supervisory position – and every two years after that.

CalChamber’s harassment-prevention training meet state requirements, and reflects recent legislation clarifying the definition of sexual harassment.

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