Given that most employees spend a lot of time with their colleagues and get to know them very well, it is no surprise that a significant number of San Diegans meet their future spouses at work, and workplace romances are actually quite common.
However, dating someone that you work with is not without its challenges, and many employers might prefer that their employees don’t get romantically involved with people that they work with. However, if you have fallen for a colleague or are dating someone at work in San Diego, you may be wondering if your employer can actually forbid you from doing this, or penalize you for your actions?
In this blog post, we will answer all of your questions about dating in the workplace, and your rights and responsibilities when you date a colleague in San Diego.
Is It Illegal To Date A Coworker?
Under US law, dating a coworker is not illegal, and any rules or restrictions enforced by your employer regarding fraternization and dating people at work are employer-specific, rather than mandated in law.
Is It Illegal To Flirt With A Coworker?
Flirting with a San Diego coworker is not illegal – however, you have to be very careful about initiating romantic relationships at work or flirting with your colleagues, whatever your intentions – because if the other party is not receptive to your approaches, your behavior could cross the line into sexual harassment.
It is important to ensure that flirting with a colleague is welcome and consensual, and does not make your colleague (or anyone else in the workplace) feel uncomfortable, and that it does not affect your work – and vitally, if your colleague asks you to stop or otherwise indicates that they are not comfortable with the flirtation, that you comply with their wishes.
Can I Be Fired For Dating A Coworker?
Across much of the USA, employers can legally prohibit employees from dating each other, including having the powers to terminate one or both employees involved in a workplace relationship.
That said, in California, state-level legislation designed to protect employees’ rights to privacy and a private life outside of work mandates that employers cannot forbid coworkers from dating, or fire you for dating a colleague.
However, even within California, employers have the powers to forbid certain types of workplace relationships at their discretion, if said relationship could potentially compromise the effective security, supervision, or morale of the workplace or business.
What’s The Difference Between Flirting And Sexual Harassment In The San Diego Workplace?
Flirting with a receptive colleague is not illegal, but it is very important to ensure that your behavior does not cross the line into the realms of sexual harassment in the workplace – which of course, is illegal.
Flirting may cross the line into sexual harassment if your approaches or actions are unwelcome or inappropriate, and persist beyond the point where the other party indicates or tells you that they want you to stop.
For instance, asking a colleague out is not likely to be classed as sexual harassment, even if the other party says no – but if you continue to ask after being rejected the first time, you may be crossing the line.
Bear in mind also the impact that your flirtation may have on other colleagues that witness the behavior as well as the target of your affections – if your behavior is overtly sexual or otherwise makes other people uncomfortable, even if the person it is aimed at is fine with it, you are again placing yourself at risk of having your behavior classed as sexual harassment.
Do I Need To Tell My Boss Or Manager If I’m Dating A Colleague?
Many San Diego workplaces have employee fraternization policies in place that require employees to inform their managers (or the company HR department) if they are dating. Check your company handbook or ask a member of the HR department about the employee fraternization rules and guidelines in place for your own company to establish the rules within your own specific workplace.
Can My Boss Or Manager Force Me To End A Relationship With A Coworker?
Ultimately, no workplace or employer can dictate who their workers fall in love with or date – and nobody can force you to end a relationship with another person.
It is reasonable to accept that in some situations, your employer might need to make changes to the working protocols of one or both parties in the relationship to accommodate an inter-colleague relationship in order to ensure fairness for all workers and to protect the company itself – such as if the relationship involves a subordinate and their direct superior.
Contact Walker Law If You Have A Case In San Diego
If you need advice on employment law or if you have been unfairly penalized by your boss because you are dating a colleague within the remit of the law, speak to an San Diego employment attorney today.
Walker Law specializes in matters of employment law in San Diego – so if you or your partner have been unfairly penalized by your employer for your relationship, or if you’re not sure of your rights, contact us now for independent, impartial advice.