My advice to you is, “Don’t even think about it.”
As a 73-year-old guy, I’m too old (and too insensitive) to be politically correct. Therefore, if you’re a snowflake, please do not read this blog.
For you naïve men who don’t know, most normal women perceive us as “pigs” and joke about it behind our backs. They believe most of us would do anything—anything for a “roll in the hay with them.” Why would I be talking about this in a business publication? The reason is that “PIGS” sometimes do stupid things in the workplace that can cost them their job, their wife and kids, their reputation, a fortune, or even their company.
In my job at Peachtree Movers, I found this phenomenon was more common than you can imagine. As a former office mover who handled or oversaw more than 50,000 office moves in 24 years, I got to see what everyone else did for a living. For 24 years, I got to meet, greet, and get to know people who worked at our client/companies. During those years (I sold my company in 2000), I heard more than my fair share about some male bosses and supervisors who had sexual relationships with their subordinates.
While there are far-reaching moral consequences of this kind of behavior, I’m not here to judge. BUT I am here to warn my fellow ‘pigs’ that you are crazy to flirt, date, sexually harass, or have any kind of inappropriate relationship with a subordinate or co-worker unless you want to become another poster child for the “#MeToo” movement. Or worse—potentially lose your position, your family, or—if you’re a business owner—your company!
It should go without saying that workplace relationships are risky; but given the steady diet of salacious news stories about this very topic, apparently it DOES need to be said. Over and over. Here’s why (and to keep it simple, “she” or “her” also refers to either “he” or “him” in the points below).
- If your relationship sours and you break up, she still isn’t out of your life because you work together. You’ll still see each other daily and that can become very awkward and painful. Remember the movie “Fatal Attraction?”
- Like it or not, dating a subordinate can lead to a sexual harassment lawsuit. Are you prepared if your employee files a lawsuit after your allegedly consensual relationship ends?
- If your employees perceive you’re giving “her” preferential treatment because she is your significant other, it could lower morale and lead to a discrimination lawsuit.
According to the law, sexual harassment prohibits “unwelcome” sexual advances. You would think if the participants are in a “consensual” relationship that “she” could not prove sexual harassment. However, how does the employer prove the relationship was consensual? What if she argues that she was forced to participant for fear of losing her job, pay raise, or promotion. In other words, their relationship only appeared to be consensual. Are you scared yet? Don’t do it—don’t date one of your employees!
To be fair, it’s not only men who harass. There have been lawsuits here and there charging women employers with sexually harassing male subordinates, as well as same-sex harassment suits. But the majority of cases involve male employers/employees vs. female employees, co-workers, or subordinates, as men still dominate the management ranks at most companies.
Over the 24 years that I owned Peachtree Movers, I confess; I had opportunities to have relationships with female employees. The ones who flirted with me, thought I was clever, witty, and smart—they laughed at all my jokes. Even though I was flattered, I never got involved with them. I was “Mr. Katz” to all my employees, and I kept it strictly business.
If you need proof that I’m right, just look at what happened to these famous people. The head of Restoration Hardware “retired” suddenly when it was revealed that its chairman and co-chief executive, 54-year-old Gary Friedman, had an intimate relationship with a 26-year-old female employee. Mark Hurd, former CEO of Hewlett Packard, was fired for having an “inappropriate relationship” with a HP Contractor, who was also an “adult” movie actress. I could list hundreds of cases like these but the last one I’ll mention is Brian Dunn, who made $10 million a year running Best Buy. While married, he was forced out of Best Buy for cheating on his wife with a female co-worker.
With so much as stake, my “fatherly advice” is don’t have an inappropriate relationship with an employee, or you could end up paying dearly.
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For more information on our online office moving training, please visit
http://www.officemoves.com/training/index.html or call Ed Katz at 404.358.2172.