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Dating with your boss

"Even today a boss-subordinate relationship is viewed as strategic on the woman's part," says Rebecca Chory, Ph.D., who studies workplace interactions at Maryland's Frostburg State University.

Still, dating at work can be a personal and professional minefield.Sarah, a 30-year-old graphic designer, met Matt through a colleague at the imaging tech company where they both worked."I didn't really notice him at first because he had a beard, and beards weren't my thing," she says.The employer can act on its suspicions and circumstantial evidence.” This is basically the same as if your employer suspected you of violating any other policy (or even doing something they didn’t like, whether prohibited by a policy or not): If, for instance, your employer suspected you of being rude to clients or watching too much You Tube at your desk, they wouldn’t need to present you with evidence. In this case, though, Bryan goes on to say that they’d still be wise to only act if they have solid evidence: “Acting on flimsy suspicions would only serve to alienate employees, lower morale because they fear ‘big brother’ is prying into their personal lives, and risk losing good and loyal employees without a good reason.If an employee was let go under this policy without solid evidence and that employee came back and alleged the real reason for the discharge was gender, race, age, etc., then the employer would have a weak defense since its ‘legitimate business reason’ for the termination was so flimsy.” So there are the facts on legality. From the employer’s side, there are all kinds of reasons not to want couples in your organization — but banning dating upon penalty of firing is a very old-fashioned policy and out of touch with how most modern workplaces operate.A decade ago their romance would have been expressly forbidden.

(You know the old saying about not, um, where you eat.) But as more Americans postpone marriage until their careers are established—and as hours get longer, with smartphones blurring work and play—it makes sense that attitudes are changing.

But they exchanged a few texts, then graduated to friendly lunches.

Eventually Matt asked Sarah on a date, and they talked for so long that the sushi restaurant had to kick them out.

Relationships with coworkers at your level or in different departments are less of a headache, and policies tend to reflect that.

Nick,* 29, was surprised but pleased to be hired by his girlfriend's digital-media company, where several other couples worked together.

"The policy seemed to be: If you're dating and still doing your job, we don't care," he says.