ARUN RATH, HOST:
Work is one of the main places people find love. Of course, romantic entanglement in the office can make for very messy situations. This Valentine's Day, NPR Yuki Noguchi reports on the pleasures and perils of co-worker romance.
YUKI NOGUCHI, BYLINE: Six years ago at the Six Flags theme park in Arlington, Texas, Wonder Woman had Batman's sidekick Robin in her sights.
HAYLEY WELLING: I just noticed him from across the room. I remember thinking he was super cute.
NOGUCHI: Soon, the romance between Wonder Woman and Robin - also known as Hayley Welling and Damian Marks - developed under the watchful eye of many fellow character actors.
WELLING: When you work in a place like that, you know, everybody knows what's going on with everybody at all hours of the day. So there's really not a whole lot of room for privacy.
NOGUCHI: Their first get-togethers were over lunch breaks. Their first kiss was in the employee parking lot. When it came time to propose, Marks did so - where else? - on stage at Six Flags. They married three years ago, but not all their co-workers' relationships were happy.
DAMIAN MARKS: At Six Flags there's a history of interoffice mingling and it always leading to bad juju around the place.
NOGUCHI: The interoffice romances sometimes lead to backstage ugliness.
MARKS: It was kind of a promiscuous time - just a lot of rumors and a lot of backstabbing and a lot of cheating seemed to be the way that those romances ended up.
NOGUCHI: Allegations of favoritism and the impact on the working environment are the main reasons employers sometimes try to regulate office romance. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, fewer than half of employers have workplace romance policies, but the percentage is increasing. Of those that do, nearly all ban supervisors dating subordinates - not to say that doesn't happen. Demetrius Figueroa blogs about dating, and several years ago had a romance with a woman he nominally supervised.
DEMETRIUS FIGUEROA: I was definitely worried about my own supervisor finding out. It was my first office romance, so I had no clue if this was - maybe it wasn't against rules, but it's sort of frowned upon?
NOGUCHI: Figueroa says his relationship ended without much fanfare. But several of his friends got involved with higher-ups at work, then eventually left their jobs because everyone was talking.
FIGUEROA: It always comes down to what do people say about me when I'm not here?
NOGUCHI: Phyllis Hartman is a human resources consultant in Pittsburgh. Her friend survived what you might call a nightmare workplace relationship scenario.
PHYLLIS HARTMAN: They met at work and they got married and were married for a number of years. And then they had a divorce that was not pretty. And they had to continue to work with each other. In fact, their desks were next to each other (laughter). And they worked together for another 15 years.
NOGUCHI: Hartman says some companies draw up what are called love contracts, where workers agree to a certain set of rules when they start dating. Other firms, she says, go even further.
HARTMAN: Some companies have tried to have policies saying nobody can date at work.
NOGUCHI: That doesn't mean those policies are effective.
HARTMAN: In my experience, it means everybody goes underground. (Laughter) You know, they just hide the relationship.
NOGUCHI: At the end of the day, she says, you cannot legislate relationships. Yuki Noguchi, NPR News, Washington.
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