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valentineValentine’s Day will soon be here, but is romance in the office a good idea? This post offers some suggestions.

Have you ever fallen for a co-worker? It’s fairly common; after all, you spend 40-plus hours a week with them. According to a survey by CareerBuilder, 4 out of 10 people have dated a co-worker at some point, and a majority of them ended up getting married.

But having a workplace romance can get employees into trouble, especially if it’s a boss-subordinate relationship, because it can quickly turn into a sexual harassment lawsuit – with the “underling” claiming they were afraid they’d be fired if they didn’t date the boss.

If an employee client is headed toward a supervisor-worker relationship, employment attorney Kathleen McKenna suggests signing a “cupid contract” that spells out in writing that the relationship is consensual. Set a few ground rules in case the relationship ends, kind of like an office romance pre-nup, which of you will leave the department, or the company, if the relationship flames out, or if management decides you should no longer work together.

The employee must think long and hard about what it would be like to lose his or her job, because in most failed romances, one person ends up leaving, voluntarily or not.

Actually, even co-workers not involved in the relationship sometimes end up suing the company because the employees who are in the relationship can make the workplace hostile for everybody.

This article originally appeared in the February 2015 Employee Assistance Report. For a sample copy, visit the “Employee Assistance Professionals” link at http://www.impact-publications.com    or email mike.jacquart@impacttrainingcenter.net