As the Obama administration investigated dozens of cases of sexual assault at various colleges across the country, Harvard University adopted a ban on romantic relationships between professors and undergraduate students. Many educational institutions, including New York City’s Columbia University, have come under fire in the past year amidst accusations of mishandling claims involving campus sexual harassment and assault.

“Our rule is that if you are supervising, evaluating or grading someone, you should not have a sexual relationship with that person,” said Alison Johnson, a Harvard history professor.

The American Association of University Professors noted that intimate relationships between students and professors make consent hard to determine because of the unequal power dynamic and leave institutions vulnerable to allegations of sexual harassment. Our New York City sexual harassment attorneys know all too well how that unequal power dynamic can quickly turn into a messy situation for students, as well as employees, across the City.

Harvard’s new policy regarding student-professor relationships comes after the University revised its policy regarding campus rape and sexual assault. The overhaul came in response to the Department of Education’s finding that the school violated Title IX by having sexual harassment and sexual assault policies that did not comply with federal standards.

Checking your company’s office romance policy

Before getting involved in a relationship at work, do a little digging into your Human Resource’s policy on interoffice romances. With growing complaints of sexual harassment in NYC workplaces, you want to ensure you do not put yourself, or a co-worker, at risk of legal troubles.

Engaging in a romance at work does not necessarily equal sexual harassment. However, if the relationship violates company policy, or the romance goes sour, it could lead to troubles in your professional life or even a sexual harassment complaint.

Many organizations do not prohibit relationships between colleagues but may have a policy barring supervisor-subordinate romances. Certain companies require partners to disclose their involvement to HR. Other employers might not have any rules on books. Check with your HR department, and contact a New York City sexual harassment lawyer right away if you believe your rights were violated.

If you feel you have been the victim of workplace discrimination or sexual harassment in New York City, Miami, New Jersey or Philadelphia or if your employment rights have been violated, call us at 800-807-2209 for a free consultation to discuss your possible claim. Our attorneys are available to review your claims and prepare a solid case to recover the damages and justice you deserved.