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Office Romances Could Be Bad for Business

One person's promotion is another's harassment claim.

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This story appears in the January 2006 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

They say love is a many-splendored thing. Today, it's an on-the-job thing as more employees gaze longingly at each other from across crowded cube farms. In a 2005 Career-Builder.comsurvey, some 56 percent of workers revealed that they have dated a co-worker, and 31 percent have had an office romance more than twice. Longer workdays have made the office as much a social environment as it is a work environment, says John Challenger, CEO of Chicago-based outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. "Companies have almost no choice but to accept office romances," he says.

Office romances are leading to new legal battles. Consider Miller v. Department of Corrections, in which the California Supreme Court overturned two lower court decisions by ruling that workers may sue for sexual harassment when they lose promotions to co-workers who are dating supervisors.

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