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The office: Where romance reigns
Scripps Howard News Service

February 12, 2006

Cupid is roaming the cubicles in the 24/7 workplace without being roped in by the boss, to judge by new surveys suggesting that most employers don't forbid co-worker dating. Two Valentine's Day polls report that:

- More than 70 percent of employers don't have written policies against office dating on grounds they see "no pressing need" and, among those who do, just 9 percent ban office dating outright.




The e-mail survey of 493 employers was taken by the Society of Human Resource Managers in conjunction with an online worker survey by, the Wall Street Journal workplace Web site.

Their poll also found 40 percent of employees had an office romance sometime in their work lives.

- Fifty-four percent of men and 40 percent of women are open to dating a co-worker, while 70 percent of men and 83 percent of women call dating the boss a no-no, according to an Opinion Research Corp. poll of 4,000 singles for America Online.

Workplace consultant John Challenger credits long hours, competition and demographics with the increased openness toward office fraternization that once might have led to dismissal. Today, "the workplace replaces the tavern as the primary setting for social interaction," he says.

Challenger also points to the rise of the "office spouse," two people who seem inseparable at work but who may not socialize outside.

Lawyers aren't so lenient toward this workplace trend, however. Employment attorney Paul Siegel of the New York office of Jackson Lewis cites two cases showcasing potential liability risks:

- A Florida prosecutor was recently slapped with a sexual-harassment complaint by the secretary he gave a lacy teddy for Valentine's Day.

- A California college professor already accused of harassing his female students sealed his legal fate when he sent them Valentine cards.

As for where romance starts, online job site reports that 40 percent of people say they met their future spouse at or through work.

America Online's AOL(at)Love poll finds the Internet at 16 percent beat out work at 15 percent and other traditional dating sites.

But Harlequin Enterprises, the women's fiction publisher known for bodice-ripping romances, says only 7 percent of men and women tell the publisher that online dating is the way to go. Harlequin's annual Romance Report says the laundromat tops the list of best places to look for love, followed by the library, school, the coffee house and health club.


Distributed to subscribers by Scripps Howard News Service,

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Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska