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Dating co-workers is legal, sexual harassment is not

As Colorado residents may know, there is nothing new about co-workers dating. In fact, it is commonplace enough that it may come to be expected. Prior to the advent of online dating, people commonly developed relationships with people they were in close proximity to, and considering that many people spend nearly half of their waking hours at work, it is not surprising that some employees develop romantic relationships with co-workers.

Unfortunately, and despite people's best intentions, dating a co-worker does not always end well. Workplace relationships can give rise to a number of legal issues, including sexual harassment and employment discrimination. But does an employer have the right to stop or prevent romantic inclinations? The answer is "no" if you live in Colorado.

Colorado is one of a number of states that has enacted an Off Duty Legal Activities Law. The law protects employees from being terminated for legal activities that they engage in away from the office.

The Off Duty Legal Activities Law may protect employees from being terminated for dating, but it does not protect employees who engage in harassment that may result from a breakup. Employers are still able to discipline employees engaging in inappropriate behavior such as sexual harassment. In fact, employers are legally obligated to put an end to harassment if they know it is taking place.

If someone is a victim of sexual harassment at work, he or she should seek the help of a human resources representative. Understanding what resources an employer has in place for workplace disputes is vital to redressing any concerns. If an employer has failed to address the issue or if the employee is dissatisfied with the result, an experienced Colorado employment attorney may be able to help assess other options for legal remedies.

Source: 9news.com, "Love in the workplace: A good or bad idea?," Blair Shiff, Feb. 9, 2012

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