Sunday, December 14, 2008

SOUND OFF: LOVE IN THE WORKPLACE

Is it a company's place to dictate who can and cannot fall in love in the workplace? According to 37 percent of the readers who responded to an informal poll on my column's blog, the answer is yes. The remaining 63 percent said no.

"Only bad things can happen during an office romance," one reader writes.

On the other hand, while Megan Chromik of Cambridge, Mass., thinks that a workplace relationship can make work difficult, she still doesn't believe that "a company should have the right to say who can and can't date and fall in love."

R.K., a reader in Florida, thinks the company should and does have that right.

"Aren't employers entitled to prohibit such employee relationships?" R.K. asks. "It's sad when trouble arises from the deceit that secretive office couples sometimes engage in."

"It crosses an ethical line for a boss to `strike up an affair' with someone at the office," writes Phil Clutts of Harrisburg, N.C. "But, if genuine romance evolves from working together, it's not the company's business if the relationship doesn't affect the company or either party's future in it in any way."

R. Brooks of Fullerton, Calif., takes a similar hands-off line.

"How else are hardworking people to meet other people?" Brooks observes. "The workplace is a prime place to meet people with similar interests."

Check out other opinions here, or post your own by clicking on "Comments" or "Post a comment" below.

Jeffrey L. Seglin, author of The Right Thing: Conscience, Profit and Personal Responsibility in Today's Business and The Good, the Bad, and Your Business: Choosing Right When Ethical Dilemmas Pull You Apart, is an associate professor at Emerson College in Boston, where he teaches writing and ethics. He is also the administrator of The Right Thing, a Web log focused on ethical issues.

Do you have ethical questions that you need answered? Send them to rightthing@nytimes.com or to "The Right Thing," The New York Times Syndicate, 500 Seventh Avenue, 8th floor, New York, NY 10018. Please remember to tell me who you are, where you're from, as well as where you read the column.

c.2008 The New York Times Syndicate (Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate)

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