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Why power dynamics are important in office relationships

On Behalf of | Apr 9, 2024 | Sexual Harassment

Power is a major part of sexual harassment cases. This is especially an issue when there is a power imbalance between two individuals, such as one person who is in a position of authority over the other. In some instances, the sexual harassment itself is more an expression of power than anything else.

In fact, this is why some companies will have policies prohibiting dating between employees at different levels within the business hierarchy. Two employees who share the same position and are not in charge of one another may be allowed to date without issue. But if an employee tried to date their manager or supervisor, that could be problematic Because the other person would have a position of power over them.

Why is this a problem?

This creates issues with consent and questions about just how willing each person was to be in the relationship.

For example, perhaps an employee did not want to have a romantic relationship with their supervisor. But they know that that supervisor writes their performance reports and, in that sense, holds their career in their hands. They may even believe that this person is their path to corporate success, as they want the supervisor on their side when seeking promotions and raises.

Knowing this, the supervisor could pressure that person into a romantic relationship. They claim it is consensual, but it’s actually a form of manipulation and may even be quid pro quo sexual harassment.

What options do you have?

Have you found yourself in a position where you believe you are being harassed or discriminated against at work? If so, you certainly need to know what legal steps to take.