How To Deal With My Boss’s Romantic Relationship in the Workplace

Coworkers talk about coworker behind his backEveryone knows that dating coworkers is basically a bad idea. So many problems can arise. When a dating relationship turns jealous in management, employees can find themselves at the center of their games. This can create a hostile work environment, workplace harassment, and retaliation.

Employees deal with a number of employment difficulties from wage to discrimination, but employees don’t expect to deal with the significant other of their boss.

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Navigating the Boss’s Dating Relationship in the Workplace

Nothing is innately wrong with personal relationship. However, the workplace depends upon professional and appropriate interaction as well as a certain hierarchy of authority.

An “untouchable” status such as significant other of the boss wields certain benefits, and a SO who decides they don’t like one of the employees for some reason can create a stressful workplace. After all, the employees know that the SO has the ear of the boss. Employees fear for their job and their productivity suffers.

When a CEO or boss allows his or her significant other to negatively impact the work environment, employees have few options available to them.

Analyze the Situation

  • Is the significant other a part of the company?
  • Or is this significant other employed elsewhere?
  • What potential problems are occurring due to the SO?
  • Is there a company policy about relationships?

Start a Conversation

Depending on the situation, you may feel comfortable speaking directly to the boss who’s SO is getting out of hand in the workplace. Be sure to frame the conversation with the assumption that your boss wants be professional in the workplace. The point is to gently inform your boss that you think there’s problem.

Significant Other in Company

If a manager is dating an employee, suggest that the employee is switched to a different supervisor. This will protect both manager and employee from damaging assumptions. After all, impartiality is difficult when dating is involved.

Significant Other outside Company

A SO who is negatively impacting the work environment without working at the company creates a complicated problem. Approach your boss and direct his or her attention to the importance of professionalism. If the relationship is new, your boss might not be willing to see the problem.

Meet with Human Resources

If the conversation with your boss goes poorly or nothing is done to resolve the problem, you will need to meet with Human Resources. In this meeting, outline how this dating relationship is negatively influencing you, the team, and the productivity. This is the time to elaborate on the details of the situation.

Employer Liability for my Boss’s Significant Other

Employment law does its best to maintain a decent level of protection for employees in the workplace. And the law does obligate employers to be responsible in certain situations with non-employees, third parties, or customers. Therefore, it’s important for you to recognize that your boss’s significant other is causing a hostile work environment, discrimination, or workplace harassment.

Sue Your Employer for the Actions of a Non-Employee

In some situations, someone who is not employed by your company harasses you. This can be a customer or third party worker, potentially a significant other of your boss. Harassment can be physical, sexual, or emotional. Although not all circumstances will warrant a lawsuit, an employment lawyer can help determine what your legal options are.

When the employee complains to the employer, it is the responsibility of the employer to solve the problem or make a change that protects the employee from the harassment. If the company fails to take these measures, the employer may be liable for the non-employee’s actions. This can be especially awkward when the person causing the harassment is allegedly the boss’s significant other. If you are fired for reporting harassment, recognize this action as possible retaliation for pursuing your employee rights.

Examples of Non-Employee Liability Problems

Manuel, a graphic designer, met the company owner’s new girlfriend when he found her going through his desk drawers. She asked him why he didn’t just go back from where he came from because she could do his job better. Manuel alerted his manager to the racist interaction, but the manager shrugged it off. Two weeks later, when the girlfriend defaced one of Manuel’s projects, he respectfully asked why she was at the office if she wasn’t an employee. She threatened to have his “Latino ass” fired. Productivity in the office lagged as the girlfriend antagonized other employees. Manuel filed a complaint of hostile work environment, and then he was terminated for the reason of “poor quality work.”

Oliver, a flight attendant, welcomed passengers onto a flight. One man ogled him and made an inappropriate comment about Oliver’s sexuality. Later, that same man slapped Oliver’s butt as he walked through the aisles, closing overhead bins. Oliver complained hostile environment to his employer.

Lucy waits on tables at a well-known chain restaurant. Every Thursday, the same customer comes in and sits in her section. He speaks sexually to her and promises to tip her well if she performs various sexual acts. Lucy reported the behavior to her manager and requested that another waiter serve the man. But, she’s not switched out. When she finds the customer waiting for her after a shift, Lucy contacted Human Resources. Nothing was done. Fearing for her safety, Lucy contacted a lawyer and filed a lawsuit.

Consult a Lawyer Today

Determining whether or not your situation will hold up in the court of law can be a complicated process. An employment lawyer studies each situation through the lens of employment law, recognizing violations of employee rights. Consult a lawyer to discover your legal options.

Don’t hesitate, talk to an attorney: (412) 626-5626 or