Asking a coworker out on a date is nerve-racking enough, but the thought that it might be seen as some kind of harassment or get you in trouble makes it worse.
So, from a legal standpoint, is asking a coworker on a date harassment, or are you breaking any laws or company policies?
I can’t speak to company policies as those vary from workplace to workplace, but it’s not illegal to ask a coworker out on a date so don’t panic!
There are some do’s and dont’s and good etiquette to follow, however!
Is Asking a Coworker on A Date Harassment?
Let’s get something clear off the top, it’s not harassment and it’s not illegal to ask a coworker out on a date.
There is a line, however, where continually asking a coworker out or acting inappropriately at work can be seen as harassment.
To avoid crossing the line or even just annoying a coworker you like, just use your best judgment and be respectful.
Here are some tips:
- If the person has said no before, don’t ask again.
- If the person you ask out says no, don’t take offense or make a big deal out of it, and don’t treat them any differently because of it.
- If you work in different departments or hierarchies, it might be best to ask a mutual friend or colleague to gauge interest before asking yourself.
- Some workplaces have rules against dating coworkers, so be sure to check your company policy before taking things any further.
- Just ask the person out is simple and as natural as possible (I know it’s difficult), the last thing you want is to make a scene in front of other coworkers.
But that said, workplace romances and relationships are common, and many a workplace relationship turns into a marriage and a happy ever after!
Can Your Workplace Stop You from Asking a Coworker Out?
Yes, some workplaces have rules against dating coworkers.
But that said, it’s important you check the laws and your worker rights in the state or country where you work as it’s probably not something they can legally enforce.
This doesn’t mean it will not get you in trouble at work, of course, but it’s important you know that you can’t be prosecuted for asking a coworker out on a date!
It can create some pretty awkward situations at work depending on how closely you work with the person you want to ask out.
As well as what they say and what happens from there on, so do think about the potential outcomes before going ahead and asking!
But don’t let an opportunity pass you by if you really like someone you work with, it’s better to ask and get rejected (I hope you don’t get rejected) than always wonder what might have been.
Is Repeatedly Asking Someone out Harassment?
It can be seen as harassment if the person has made it clear they’re not interested and you continue to ask them out, yes.
It can also be seen as harassment if your actions at work become inappropriate or make the person feel uncomfortable.
For example, if you’re constantly texting or calling them, showing up at their desk, or inviting them to lunch when they’ve said no this is crossing a line.
As is treating the person differently if they’ve said no such as not helping them with their work or avoiding them.
If you’re going to ask a coworker out you need to be prepared for all outcomes.
Whether they say no, yes, or maybe, you need to remain professional and make sure it doesn’t affect your work in any way.
I know it can be difficult if you really like someone and think they like you, too, but you need to use some common sense as well.
If you’re unsure if you’re coming on too strong, ask some of your other coworkers what they think might be a good idea.
Or if you want to keep it on the d-low at work you could always ask a mutual friend to gauge their interest before doing anything!
Is Flirting in The Workplace Harassment?
Workplace flirting and crushes are common, I’m sure we’ve all either seen or been involved in a little flirting at some point.
However, it can be seen as harassment if the person you’re flirting with is not interested and you don’t stop.
It can also become harassment if your actions make the person feel uncomfortable or are seen as unwanted attention.
For example, if you’re constantly touching them, making rude jokes, staring at them, or invading their personal space this is crossing a line.
You need to be careful with how you flirt in the workplace as it can be easy to misread signals and come on too strong.
Also, you just don’t want to make someone else feel uncomfortable, it’s not nice.
How Should You Ask Out A Coworker?
Asking out a coworker isn’t easy, it can be an incredibly nerve-racking experience – especially if you’re concerned about harassing them.
The best way to ask a coworker out is in a way that won’t make things awkward at work if they say no.
You could start by asking them out for coffee or lunch, or even just to grab a drink after work instead of arranging an ‘official’ date.
You should also pick the time and place you ask them out carefully, too.
For example, don’t ask them out in front of other coworkers, don’t follow them or make them feel trapped, and don’t make a big deal about it.
Ask them out in as casual a way as possible, they’ll know what you’re asking without you making it super clear it’s a date.
Plus, once you meet up outside of work you have a lot more freedom to chat and get to know them and can take things from there.
Image credits – depositphotos.com/stock-photo-business-team-at-coffee-break
Phil lives in England, UK, and has around 20 years experience as a professional life, career and executive coach. He started this blog to help others find and define their own self development journey. Blogging about a wide range of topics to help facilitate a better future.