Hiring An Ex

A reader recently asked me about hiring an ex-girl/boyfriend or an ex-spouse. Just the idea of that raised my eyebrows up a few levels. We all know that office gossip spreads like wildfire. No matter how hard you try to keep something a secret, the quicker and closer the match gets to gossip kindling. Just like that, your little secret is in ABC Company’s front-page news.

For most people, ex-significant others are exes for a reason. Each person has his or her individual experience and a unique story from every failed relationship, but what they all have in common is they just didn’t work out. To anyone thinking of hiring an ex, I pose this question: If you couldn’t make a relationship work, what makes you think being around that person 8 hours a day, 5 days a week will be any easier? And second, most relationships require an equal level of power between those involved to run smoothly. A supervisor overseeing his or her ex will definitely turn the tides, and I can already see the subordinate-supervisor train wreck quickly approaching.

Another issue could be accusations of favoritism. Once word gets out that an ex has become part of the staff, your peers will begin nitpicking every move you make regarding this individual. Everything from who gets what day off to who gets the office with the best view, even down to who gets away with taking an extra 5 minutes to get back from lunch. The options for constant criticism are endless.

Lastly, we come to the legal issues that may arise from hiring an ex as an employee. During your relationship, playful banter, hugs, pats on the back, and physical contact was the norm, but that doesn’t fly in the business setting. We tend to revert back to old behaviors and interactions with people, and it may be uncomfortable for your ex and your co-workers around you if you have a slip-up. An even bigger issue would come into play if the time came that you were forced to terminate your ex. I can see the scene now. “The only reason he/she fired me is because they are in love with me, and I don’t want to get back together.” Or: “Those jokes that you made to me when we were dating were funny, but I now feel sexually harassed everyday by your conversations with me.” Or: “He/she is laying me off out to get back at me for breaking things off.” Lawsuit anyone?

Bottom line is, no matter how “over” the relationship you may be or how perfect for the position your ex might be, it really is not a smart idea to hire him or her. Save yourself the worry, complications, and stress of hiring an ex. If you feel like you want to help them get a new job, offer to be a reference.

Now I want to hear from my readers! Have you ever hired, worked, or ran into an ex at a work function? How did it go?

Keep up the good work!


Dating your boss…

A reader writes…

I have a major crush on my supervisor, and it’s making work awkward. What are your thoughts about dating the boss?

Dear, “Smitten Kitten,”

So… you report to a looker, eh? Well one thing’s for sure…  I bet it makes going to work a giddy experience (not to mention the fact that you’re probably dressed to the nines each day!)

As much as a “crush” can seem innocent, or you may want to DATE this person, I highly advise against it.  Things can evolve into a big mess – from sexual harassment to office gossip… it’s just a big no-no.
While employed, you need to keep your relationship strictly professional.  No flirting or hanky-panky – it could seriously jeopardize your job and damage your reputation.  Get out there and find someone similar (away from the office) – but when it comes to your boss, consider him (or her) off limits!

Hey readers, has anyone been in a similar situation?  What did YOU do?

I’d also love to hear from the managers / supervisors out there – What’s your take on this situation?

Dating Co-Workers

A reader writes…

What are your thoughts about dating co-workers?

Dear “Workplace Romance” or “Office Aphrodite,”

For some companies, co-workers are considered “off-limits”…. like parking in the CEO’s reserved space. You just DON’T DO IT! Playing hooky on the same day, stealing a smooch in the break room … while it all seems like innocent fun and flirting, it can be considered distracting, perceived as unprofessional, and even be grounds for termination.

If, on the other hand, “colleague canoodling” is acceptable at your company, then let the romance blossom.  Just keep it out of the office, please.

Even if everyone knows you’re “an item,” you need to keep a low profile. Making co-workers uncomfortable by your flirtatious antics and/or nonstop visits is a no-no. Under any circumstance, you must remain professional and establish a THICK line between your personal and professional life. No matter how well you keep your romance under wraps… don’t be surprised by office gossip and the rumor mill … you WILL be front page news.

For many, developing a relationship at work can be ideal. It’s like having a crush on a kid in class… you look forward to going! As long as you can concentrate on your tasks and responsibilities, stay productive and professional… you’re golden. That is…. unless you have a fight or break up.

Suddenly, your workplace paradise has become an overnight nightmare. Consider passing in the hall, working side-by-side, or sitting in a business meeting… with your EX. Are the consequences worth it? I suppose that’s for you to decide.

My advice? Check “the rules” in your company handbook. And before you go wearing your heart on your “suit” sleeve… think twice.


Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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