Just last month, Gary Friedman, the chief executive of Restoration Hardware, stepped down in the middle of the company's public offering. A couple years ago, Hewlett-Packard's chief executive, Mike Hurd, resigned amid accusations of falsifying expense reports to hide a personal relationship with an independent contractor.The reason: an internal inquiry into his relationship with a 26-year-old female employee. As companies grow and add employees, you will often see signs of budding workplace relationships.But a lot of companies don't let the rank and file decide--they adopt policies that ban or limit workplace dating--all in the name of lowering liability.Enforcing these policies can take their toll on a company. Earlier this year, Best Buy's chief executive, Brian Dunn, stepped down after an investigation by the board discovered he had shown "extremely poor judgment" with a 29-year-old female employee.Apparently both had casually agreed on their roles as the ground work was being done.When it came time to execute the project, the colleague called the outside vendor (my mentee’s contact) secured the deal and then promptly wrapped up the assignment with the senior level executive.
I was once a vice president at a former job (didn’t like management, not for me, but that’s no matter here).As the old saying goes "you don't dip your pen in the company ink." In other words, you shouldn't get into a dating or sexual relationship with a co-worker.But consider this: according to a recent Workplace Options survey, nearly 85% of 18-29 year olds would have a romantic relationship with a co-worker, compared to just over 35% for 30-46 year olds and about 30% of 47-66 year olds.Everyone has a Black Berry and so even if you don’t want to disturb someone with a phone call, texting and e-mail are always appropriate for matters concerning urgent business or communication etiquette.The other breach was in their perceived friendship.The two, in my mentee’s words, “enjoy a good relationship and are friendly toward one another.” The two were also recently working jointly on a project.My mentee was coordinating with an outside vendor and the colleague was managing the project with a senior level executive internally.Even more shocking is that 40% of those 18-29 year olds would date their supervisors.According to a Career Builder survey, interoffice dating has a fairly high success rate--of the 38% of people surveyed that dated a co-worker at least once, 31% went on to marry that co-worker! If you believe the stats of new employees entering the workforce, it might seem so.Chas Rampenthal is general counsel and vice president of product development at Legal Zoom.He's also a former talk radio host (KTLK AM 1150 at Clear Channel) and an entrepreneur himself, as the founder of Legal Endeavor.