Office romances, frowned upon and snickered at by some, may lead to sexual harassment claims, divorce, personal and professional humiliation. But, every once in a while they lead to marriage.
“As a divorce attorney, I look for the other woman or man within the office environment first:’ said attorney Jennifer Joseph.
“But do what I say, not what I do. As an associate in a legal firm, I married one of the partners. Well, in my case it worked out. It’s been 14 years.”
Jennifer met and married John Joseph, when both were working at the Columbus office of law firm of Benesch Friedlander Coplan & Aronoff LLP.
People spend a lot of time-at their jobs, and often in very close quarters with coworkers, said Jennifer, now a partner with her husband in the Columbus firm Joseph & Joseph. Office relationships, no matter what rules are imposed by the employer, are bound to happen and often do.
Marital status key
Usually in cases where both parties in office relationship are single and of similar job status, the relationship can be a positive experience and may even lead to marriage, she said.
But, dating of employees within the company is “fraught with danger:’ she said, particularly when one or both parties are married to other people, or one party has a superior professional position. When such relationships go bad, the company may be faced with costly sexual harassment claims.
‘Almost all businesses are in tune with having a need for a sexual harassment policy:’ she said.
Most businesses, however, shy away from implementing specific dating policies. Despite her own experience, Joseph said most companies should at least have something in writing regarding office dating.
“The problem is that a subordinate can claim that it was not a consensual relationship. Often those complaints ask for a ridiculous amount of money; I don’t remember ever losing a sexual harassment case, but it’s really expensive.” she said.
The majority of couples get divorced for two reasons: Financial problems or one partner learns the other was unfaithful, Joseph.said.
More often than not, the proverbial other person is a co-worker she said. Finding that other person is usually pretty easy; she said. First, a divorce attorney will subpoena the cell phone records of the unfaithful spouse and look for any calls made after 10 p.m. that are more than 15 minutes long. Men in particular, will rarely talk to someone on the phone for more than 15 minutes unless the person on the receiving end is a partner in a relationship.
“Never date a co-worker who is a subordinate, and if you’re married, only date your spouse” said Joseph. “There are plenty of fish in the sea.”