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Can I date someone at work? What if my boss buys me roses?

With Valentine’s Day approaching, we thought we would tackle this thorny question.

Anyway, the answer to the first question depends on your workplace.  For good reason, many workplaces have policies prohibiting or discouraging workplace relationships.  UConn’s policy is a good example.  These policies exist to protect workers who may also be subordinates to the persons with whom they are in a relationship- an employee may not feel that he or she really has the power to say no to a supervisor without jeopardizing his or her job, and so employers tend to err on the side of caution and prohibit or discourage these relationships.  Another worry is that a supervisor may do favors for an employee with whom he or she is in a relationship, and that would not be fair to other employees.   Further, employers sometimes require employees who are in a romantic relationship with a coworker to disclose the relationship and may transfer one or both employees to eliminate any conflicts that come up.  There is no law prohibiting workplace relationships, but they tend to create difficulties in the workplace and may need to be disclosed.  Check your employer’s policies to see what it has to say about this issue.

The issue of a boss buying roses for his or her employee is connected to the issue of sexual harassment , and depends on context.  If your boss were to buy roses for you and leave it there, with no further advances or suggestions or expectations from you, this may very well be a legal (if somewhat awkward and ill-advised) gesture of good will.  However, if this boss were to accompany the flowers with unwelcome advances, or the flowers were part of a pattern of conduct that made you feel uncomfortable, the gesture could contribute to sexual harassment.