On behalf of California Employment Counsel, APC on Friday, October 4, 2019.
It is flattering when someone finds you attractive. Like many people, you may like to hear a coworker compliment you on your clothing, your smile or some recent change you have made in your appearance. However, there is a line that your coworkers should not cross.
When someone at work finds you attractive, he or she may ask you out on a date. It may seem innocent enough, but when does it become sexual harassment? Some businesses are setting guidelines for office dating. If your workplace does not have such policies, you and others may be at risk.
Is your company keeping up?
Companies like Google, Netflix and Airbnb have recently adopted new rules for asking another employee out on a date. A worker in one of these companies or others with similar rules may ask you a limited number of times, perhaps only once, to go on a date. If you say no or even offer a vague, off-putting response, the employee may not pursue the matter. Spokespeople for these companies recognize how the persistence of someone asking your out can quickly make the workplace feel hostile.
While you may appreciate the cost many companies are facing in the light of increasing sexual harassment lawsuits, you also understand the importance of feeling safe and protected while you are at work. Perhaps it is your personal policy not to date coworkers or you are simply not interested, but a coworker who returns again and again to ask you out, perhaps with increasing persistence, can make you feel ill-at-ease and make it difficult for you to do your job effectively.
Where can you turn for help?
Fortunately, many businesses have updated their policies for fraternizing and dealing with sexual harassment complaints, and yours may be one of them. On the other hand, you may be in the difficult position of having your employer or supervisor pursue you to go out on a date. This can become a complex situation since turning down the boss has led to instances of retaliation for some employees.
If you are in a work situation where a fellow employee is creating a hostile environment with persistent or increasingly suggestive advances, you may hope your employer steps in and deals with the matter effectively. However, you certainly want to understand all your options in case your employer fails to resolve the situation. Speaking with a skilled attorney with experience in California employment law is a good place to start.