By Andrew Zimbalist
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It may be heresy to say, but the fact is that men and women still like and love one another, Page 5 and they're not all out in the workforce spending their time harassing each other. The American people have been socialized into thinking about intimacy and work as separate compartments of life. And that is simply not true. What's Really Going On at Work How high is the interest between people at work? Very high. The surveys generally indicate that anywhere from 25 to 33 percent (one survey concludes 70 percent) of the employees at a given company have had an office romance at one point in their careers.
We worked closely together for nine months, sharing lunches and coffee breaks while talking shop but nothing else as I was married. Her marriage had ended a few years before then. My marriage was running on the rocks, but I didn't want to leave my wife because of the children. One night, we headed over to a local bar with some employees, ending up both drunk and wildly kissing each other in the parking lot. Alice invited me to dinner that Friday night at her home, and I went, telling my wife that I was working late at the office.
Not even if that person is offended, and especially not if he or she's one of those who take offense to just about anything. Complimenting a person on their appearance, even if they take offense at that, isn't harassmentalthough you might not receive a good evaluation if that person's the boss. Nor is buying a gift for someone who then returns it, even if one of you is working for the other. And the courts have been consistent in holding that a relationship by itself isn't Page 9 sexual harassment, nor can an affair by any stretch of the imagination indicate a hostile working environment.
Case Studies on the Labor Process by Andrew Zimbalist