Post-Interview Date Request Sparks Harassment Discussion

harassment, Naperville business law attorneyMixing business and love can be a dangerous proposition. While we tend to take delight in fictional workplace romances—Jim and Pam from The Office, for example, are among the most popular television couples ever—real-word situations can become messy very quickly. Of course, we also live in a very opportunistic society, and some people will use any opening to their advantage, especially when it comes to finding “the one.”

As a business law attorney, I recognize that while every individual may have his or her own opinion about what is appropriate in a business setting, there are some lines that should never be crossed. Harassment, including sexual harassment, is never acceptable in or outside of the workplace, but whether a particular action should be considered harassment is often a matter of debate. Such was the case recently for a New York woman who was asked out by a man she had just interviewed.

A Questionable Decision

Some actions are always a bad idea. An interviewer, for example, using interview time to pressure an interviewee into a social date, is undoubtedly unacceptable. But, what if the situation was reversed and a date proposal was offered several days later? According to reports, that is exactly what happened to a woman who interviewed a male candidate for an engineering job with the company for which she worked. Several days later, the candidate sent the woman an email asking if he could take her out for a drink that coming weekend.

Taken aback, the woman posted a redacted version of the email to her Twitter account, captioning it with a warning against asking an interviewer out on a date, along with the a hashtag reference to harassment.

Harassment or Bad Timing?

Responses to the woman’s post and the subsequent news stories have been mixed, with most commenters suggesting that while the man’s timing may have been off, a single date request is not harassment. By and large, the law would probably agree. There is no indication that he continued to pressure the woman or that the request was followed by any other inappropriate behavior. More than likely, the date request was little more than a breach of interview etiquette.

Some responders have even indicated that the woman’s actions in exposing the email were just as unprofessional as the initial request for a date. Some believe that woman was equally wrong by taking the matter public. She could easily have said “No, thank you” to the date request and put the matter behind her. If the man persisted, then going public with it may have been a more appropriate response.

Ethical Questions?

Concerns regarding harassment or inappropriate behavior can have a dramatic impact on your company. If you have been placed in an awkward position by an employee, prospective candidate, or a customer, an experienced business law attorney in Naperville can help you understand your available options. Call The Gierach Law Firm today at 630-756-1160 for a confidential consultation.

 

Sources:

Life & Style Weekly

Yahoo! Style