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Warning to the Boss: Think of Having Sex with Your Employee as the Same as Incest!

03/18/2010 05:12 am 05:12:02 | Updated May 25, 2011

Bosses..does that make the point any easier to remember?

At least once a month, I get a call from a TV producer or reporter, who is covering a story about allegations of a boss having sex with an employee--with it often times being a consensual relationship.

Whether it's consensual or not, it doesn't matter. Boss-employee sex always ends up bad and it's wrong. There's an interesting point made in the recent book, High on Arrival, by Mackenzie Phillips, who claims to have allegedly had a consensual, sexual relationship with her father. Consensual or not, it's wrong. I really believe you would need to be a victim of either one of these terrible scenarios--sexual harassment or incest--to really know that.

When will bosses ever learn? Companies, large or small, and private or publically held, end up paying the price for bosses who are simply put, too horny. They pay, not just in dollars and cents but also in reputation, degradation and a permanent cloud that often soils corporate culture forever. And no one is immune to this. Bill O'Reilly, who hosts the O'Reilly Factor on Fox Networks, has had alleged allegations of sexual harassment and we all know of the former President Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky scandal. We only hear about the highly publicized celebrity and media stories, but truth be told, these stories happen everywhere and can happen to anyone.

For the past week, as the author of the HarperCollins' (NewsCorp) global bestseller "Bulletproof Your Job: 4 Simple Strategies to Ride Out the Rough Times and Come Out on Top at Work," I have been on countless televisions shows as a talking head to comment on the sexual harassment issue at CBS, concerning "The David Letterman Show." CBS, by the way, has been often referred to as "The Tiffany Network," for its "high-quality" programming.

There have been allegations that "the boss," David Letterman, himself, turned the famous landmark "The Ed Sullivan Theatre" into a sort of alleged bordello. It seems like less than a month ago that I saw and heard all these "Tiffany Network" executives talking about the heritage and class of Walter Cronkite and the history of CBS, as they eulogized Cronkite, who seems to represent the permanent face of CBS.

Now, this same company, CBS, finds one of its leading "faces" of today's CBS, David Letterman, admitting to having had sex with several of his subordinates. The boss-employee sex thing is bad enough, but then--"the back story," as they say in television, in a story even some of the best television writers could not make up, it's alleged that another "Tiffany Network" employer, from within the very news department that Walter Cronkite had worked, was allegedly blackmailing Letterman about his alleged affairs.

What is in the water cooler at CBS? What will we hear next? I certainly hope that some male intern doesn't come out of the woodwork to allege that the famous power widow and now holder of Cronkite's throne, Katie Couric, is pinching some male interns' behind? (Just kidding Katie)

Sexual harassment, much like incest, is no laughing matter, as Mackenzie Phillips wrote in her book about her alleged consensual sexual relationship with her father. Once again, the word "consensual" doesn't change anything. A child shouldn't be subjected to that, because it's just an abuse of adult power. And it's analogous to having a relationship with your boss--even if you really want to have sex with him/her.

There are two separate questions I am often asked on these talk shows. The first one we covered--is it wrong for a boss to have sex with a subordinate, even if it is consensual? You now have my opinion--bosses, take my advice, think of it as incest.

Then a completely different question often confused with harassment--is it okay for two workers (peers) to have a sex or sleep together? I always cringe when they change the word from "sex" to "sleeping together." Let's face it, how much "sleeping" really goes on? Let's just call it what it is--sex. Everyone thinks these scenarios only apply to male/female, but whether it's harassment or peer-to-peer sex, it crosses different sexes and gender preferences--males/male- females/female - male/female. No one is immune.

Back to peer-to-peer worker sex, 40 percent of Americans surveyed said they have had sex with someone at work or worth with. Taking out of the equation the marital or relationship status of those people and assuming they are all single (which we know they are not), we can assume people are horny for the people they work with. In part, because we often we spend more time with the people we work with than the people we live with.

The organic chemistry between you and a peer, who works in the same industry shows you have the same interest. So where we work -the industry and the culture within that industry is almost like a subconscious match.com. Romance may bloom, and as long as it is not sexual harassment, even at a peer level, many strong relationships have been formed at work.

Tell me your experience? Are you part of the 40 percent who allegedly has had sex with someone they work with? If so, where? At work? When during work? Were you caught? Did you meet your husband, wife or partner at work? Have you been sexually harassed? -Was it a peer, or the boss?
I'd love to hear from you.
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You're always welcome to write me with your career dilemmas, and I'll answer you on this column.
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Disclaimer: The scenarios and events portrayed in this article are products of the author's imagination.
(c) Stephen Viscusi. All rights reserved. Article can be duplicated in part of full without author's permission.

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Stephen Viscusi is the author of two books about jobs and the workplace. Charles Gibson from ABC's World News calls Viscusi, "America's Workplace Guru".

Viscusi is a TV broadcast journalist on jobs, a headhunter and resume spin doctor. His latest book, Bulletproof Your Job: 4 Simple Strategies to Ride Out the Rough Times and Come Out On Top at Work (HarperCollins) has been published around the globe in at least 9 languages including Chinese, Korean, Spanish and Portuguese.

Viscusi is also the founder of www.BulletproofYourResume.com.

Viscusi's headhunting and workplace advice is usually considered counter-intuitive to the conventional wisdom. Viscusi is not a career or life coach. To the contrary, his current book, Bulletproof Your Job has been described as the New Millennium's The Art of War, by Sun Tzu, and that's how Viscusi sees the workplace. He's your workplace General.

Each week, Stephen Viscusi volunteers his headhunting career advice to the world.
His disciples can be celebrities, politico, world leaders, heads of industry, and some are just ordinary people who write him for advice. It's like Tony Robbins advising Al Gore or Deepak Chopra advising Michael Jackson (wait, scratch that one).

You can get your own advice by writing to Stephen at stephen@viscusi.com or Facebook him or Twitter him at WorkplaceGuru.