Does Office Flirting Cross the Line into Sexual Harassment?

Long Branch employment lawyers resolve complex sexual harassment cases.It is clear from the many high-profile #MeToo cases in the news recently, colleagues are not always on the same page when it comes to office communication. Some think flirting is fun, harmless banter. For others, it is unwanted and offensive. It is important to distinguish what office flirtations entail and when they cross the line into sexual harassment.

When Office Connections Become a Problem

Many of us spend just as much, if not more, time with our colleagues during the week than our partners. Conversations evolve into flirting and flirting, for some, turns into much more. Yet, in some cases, it can also be considered unlawful sexual harassment.

The law does not regulate your personal morals and values. In terms of civil rights and sexual harassment, it is used to prevent a hostile or offensive work environment for everyone involved.

The following are signs that your office flirtation is becoming inappropriate:

  • Your work is suffering: The time spent talking with your coworker is detrimental to your work responsibilities. The quality of your work, your productivity, and your colleagues’ trust have declined as a result of your office romance.
  • You are being secretive: At home, you neglect to mention all the time spent with your coworker and at the office. While compartmentalizing your personal and professional lives is necessary to a point, keeping secrets is a sign your bond is problematic.
  • You are giving your office flirt preferential treatment: Whether it is a raise, promotion, or just the office with the best view, if your personal feelings for a colleague are clouding your objective management skills, there is a problem.
  • Your peers are concerned: A sexually charged office flirtation is distracting and even offensive to others. Flirtatious conversations or physical interactions you consider harmless can make others uncomfortable and even offended.

Remember these red flags to keep a platonic office connection from becoming an inappropriate relationship that crosses the line into illegal sexual harassment.

Tips for Preventing an Office Flirtation from Becoming a Sexual Harassment Violation

If you are concerned time spent with your coworker is heading the wrong way, try these tips to avoid an Human Resources problem:

  • Avoid spending time alone with this coworker, unless necessary for business reasons
  • Keep your office door open when interacting with your coworker
  • When traveling for work, meet this coworker in public spaces and include others whenever possible
  • Be especially mindful of approaching their work objectively to avoid giving preferential treatment

While it is natural to sometimes forge meaningful bonds with those we spend so much time with every day, today’s anti-harassment laws are clear about keeping our workplaces free of sexually charged comments and activity. Protect yourself and your career by keeping your office connections professional.

Long Branch Employment Lawyers at Fox & Melofchik, L.L.C Resolve Complex Sexual Harassment Cases

If you experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, the Long Branch employment lawyers at Fox & Melofchik, L.L.C. represent employers and individuals dealing with workplace harassment claims. We review every detail of your case to recommend sound legal guidance for the best outcome. We protect your rights under the law and help you move past a hostile work environment.

To get started, call us at 732-493-9400 or contact us  online to schedule a free, no-obligation case review. Located  in Eatontown, New Jersey, we represent clients throughout Monmouth County, Ocean County, Middlesex County, Mercer County, Asbury Park, Neptune, Long Branch, Keansburg, Ocean Township, Eatontown, Red Bank, Middletown, Colts Neck, Deal, Freehold, Holmdel, Jackson, Little Silver, Marlboro, and Rumson.

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