Can your public display of affection cause problems at work?
You and your coworker have known each other for a long time, so it wasn’t surprising when you decided to start dating. Outside of work, you’ve been discussing moving in together and the kind of life you’d like to learn with one another.
In the workplace, you occasionally hug or kiss, but you never thought that it was a problem. That was until you had another colleague mention that it was bothering another coworker.
Is a public display of affection sexual harassment?
A public display of affection could lead to trouble for you if you are showing affection around people who are uncomfortable with it. While most people won’t be bothered if you hug your boyfriend or girlfriend, give them a quick kiss goodbye at the end of a shift or otherwise show minor affections, they may become uncomfortable if that display is more sexual than the very basics.
Employees may also be able to be disciplined for showing public displays of affection at work, especially if they have complaints made against them for sexual harassment. For example, if you saw two coworkers slip into the break room to make out, you might feel uncomfortable and report their behavior. The same is true for other workers.
Romance doesn’t have to be dead in the workplace, but it is important that it remains appropriate. If someone states that they’re uncomfortable seeing someone kiss or touch affectionately in the workplace, then the entire team should keep that in mind. Keeping your relationship private at work is usually a good idea.
PDAs can make people uncomfortable, and they have a right to report them
If you are made uncomfortable by a situation like this, you’re able to ask the people who are making you uncomfortable to stop. You can also talk to the human resources department or a supervisor to ask what can be done to make the situation more comfortable for you. In the end, everyone in the workplace should feel that the environment is safe and welcoming. If it’s not, then they need to speak up, and action should be taken to reduce the discomfort in the workplace.