Question of the Day: Sex and the Workplace

When I worked at a newspaper I used to joke with some of my co-workers that without The Bakersfield Californian some of my cohorts would find a date. I knew plenty of people who dated, broke up and even married within the newsroom. I didn’t date at work because, well, I like to keep things separated if at all possible. But with men and women being human and working together in close and sometimes horny confides relationships and couplings (and the occasional sexual harassment lawsuit) are bound to happen.

More after the jump.

Enter the case of late night talk show host David Letterman, recently blackmailed for about $2 million dollars by a fellow CBS staffer, threatening to reveal a sexual affair Letterman had with an employee. Other than the fact that Letterman is a married man I don’t quite get the shock over this “scandal.” If having sex with co-workers were scandalous, my word, they’d have to lock up half the journalists I’ve befriended over the years, just about every thespian I know who treated musical theater like sex camp and they’d have to re-impeach Bill Clinton. You’d think Monica-gate would have killed any fascination anyone ever had with a person having some kind of sex, on the job, with a subordinate, but apparently it has not.

I think dating on the job can cause muy problemas as Letterman is fast learning, so I almost always advise against it unless you’re both on equal footing (re: please try not to screw or be screwed by your boss) and are willing to have the whole office all up in your Kool-Aid. Sometimes workplace romances can work out great (see President and First Lady), ending in marriage. Sometimes it just ends in a huge blow up, anger, apathy and mean forwarded emails that manage to make their rounds in everyone’s browser.

What’s your take on sex in the workplace? Is it a do or a never, ever do and what do you think of the Letterman scandal?

10 thoughts on “Question of the Day: Sex and the Workplace

  1. I dated a co-worker back in the day and when it was good, it was great. One bad days, not so much. And fortunately, by the time we broke up, we were working in different buildings. It was still ugly but we didn’t have to look at each other all the time.As for Letterman, it’s my understanding that the relationships took place before he got married last year. If there was no coercion in the relationships, so what! It’s not a big deal. What’s more interesting is that a well paid producer of 48 Hours was the one blackmailing him That’s ballsy.

  2. Danielle, welcome back! I was forced to actually work while you were gone. I’ve never dated anyone I worked with – the phrase don’t sh*t where you eat always comes to mind. On the other hand, people spend so much time at work and are involved in so many work-related activities, there’s little time to meet someone outside of the workplace. To each his own I guess. I used to work in city government where folks were always in your business, so I saw the rise and fall of many personal relationships. Boy, were they juicy! As for Letterman, I think he handled this the right way and is taking responsibility for his actions. Plus, he wasn’t married (although he was in a long-term relationship) when this happened. Kudos to him for taking control over this situation.

  3. I don’t date at work. I don’t like to sh^t where I eat. But I can completely see folks doing it. Because when you leave the office, there is only 15 hours before you have to be back and sometimes that’s not enough time to find a meaningful relationship and sleep. Work may be the only time folks can come together and form a bond. As long as there is no coercion, folks aint playing favorite and the work is getting done, I say enjoy!

  4. My problem is that DL was living with his then girlfriend, now wife at the time of the relationship not so much that his relationship was with a co-worker.

  5. I met a woman at a temp job once and she came home with me and wound up staying for 9 years. Other than that, I’ve never dated at work. I’ve seen and heard too many horror stories to know this isn’t prudent.

  6. I presonally wouldn’t date someone I worked with because I prefer to never see people again after we break up and that would wreak havoc on my career. I don’t have a problem with others who do though if the co-worker is on a peer level. I think it becomes a problem for the office when the boss is sleeping with a subordinate. In this case, I’m not condoning what Letterman did. I think it was poor judgment on his part but if the employees at the Letterman Show aren’t complaining…maybe they all get bonuses this year.

  7. I say avoid it — and I’m happily married to not only a co-worker but my former boss.I say this advice is doubly true if you’re a woman. Everyone’s already judging you based on sex as it is … dating someone in the office just amplifies that.First you’re trying to keep the relationship under wraps so that colleagues will judge you on your work, not your relationships. So that strains the relationship.Then it inevitably comes out and you’re left with dealing with every work crisis not only in terms of the office relationships, but also your personal relationship and how that may or may not be influencing decisions.I vowed I’d never work in the same office as my spouse ever again. The recession changed that. So now we’ve had to deal with sexual discrimination (lower pay, lower positions in the company and my personal favorite: well … your husband has a parking space, so that means you already have a parking space … even though we often use our cars during the work day).Also, more sexual harassment from from childish bosses who just can’t contain their delight over having something to taunt you with.And that’s just if the relationship goes well!

  8. Wasn’t there once some old fictitious guy ranting about about discretion being the better part of valor?

  9. *Aaby runs in to the room where the grown-ups are talking.*Ooh! Snob! This thread reminds me.Weren’t you looking for potential interns recently?What are the perks duties involved?And can you tell me a little ’bout the interview process?*Aaby scampers out of the room.*

  10. I admit I dated two co-workers twice in my life. In both relationships, we worked in different departments. The first relationship, everyone (mostly the women) tried to be in our business. The second time I got involved with someone at work, we didn’t tell a soul, even my close girlfriend. I told her years down the road after we parted. She wanted to know why I didn’t tell her. I told her sometimes people inadvertently tell your "secrets". If you don’t tell anyone, you don’t have to concern yourself with that.I wouldn’t do it at this point in my life though, but to each his/her own.

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