Are Office Romances Illegal?

An office romance is not illegal unless it is contrary to an employer’s policy, or it is due to unlawful activity. It is unlawful for your supervisor or co-worker to force you into a relationship through quid pro quo sexual harassment.

What Is Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment?

Quid pro quo sexual may occur when an employee submits to unwelcome sexual advances because they are in reasonable fear that their employer will retaliate against them. 

Furthermore, quid pro quo sexual harassment may occur when an employee rejects unwelcome sexual advances, and the terms of their employment are adversely affected. 

Male and female co-workers sharing an office romance.

What Are Examples Of Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment?

You may be experiencing quid pro quo sexual harassment if:

  1. Your boss or supervisor promises to hire or promote you in exchange for a sexual favor.
  2. Your manager threatens to terminate or transfer you unless you have a relationship with them.
  3. A director promises to take you on a work trip or provide you a preferred assignment in exchange for a sexual favor.
  4. You agree to begin dating your supervisor because they threatened to give you a negative review, change your schedule, or reduce your salary if you refused.  

What If Our Office Romance Is Consensual?

A consensual relationship is not always truly consensual. It may be the result of indirect coercion, pressure, or a power imbalance between two individuals. Furthermore, a consensual office romance may still become problematic if you engage in public displays of affection that make other co-workers feel uneasy or if it violates the company’s policy. 

Contact The Maura Greene Law Group

If you are concerned about an office romance or sexual harassment, contact the Maura Greene Law Group.  The attorneys at the Maura Greene Law Group can help identify and explain your rights and options. 

Contact us at 617-936-1580 or email us at 

The Not-So-Fine Print:

We see patterns in our practice, like the ones described above. However, every case has its own unique facts. Before you take any action, you should contact an employment lawyer and get advice on your own situation. We can’t provide legal advice here and this isn’t intended as legal advice. It is best, if possible, to establish a relationship with an attorney before a workplace issue turns into a crisis. Employees who have received a verbal or written warning or performance improvement plan should contact counsel now. Ditto for employees who are seeing their doctor for workplace-related stress or anxiety.