New Zealand Law Society - Could you be breaking the "laws of love" on Valentine's Day in the office?

Could you be breaking the "laws of love" on Valentine's Day in the office?

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For most people Valentine’s Day (14 February) is innocent fun, a day where many couples simply celebrate being together.

And it’s not uncommon to find people who work together in a close personal relationship.

But in some cases a person’s anonymous admiration for another person at work or in the office on Valentine’s Day could come as an unwelcome surprise.

As the New Zealand Law Society President, Kathryn Beck explains, it could be construed by the recipient as sexual harassment or stalking.

“You have to remember it is a workplace. If your admiration is unrequited, keep in mind that you are going to be seeing this person eight hours a day and that might be uncomfortable for one or both of you,” she says.

Ms Beck says the anonymous card or roses can also cause often unintended harm to a colleague.

“Some people can feel quite disconcerted at the thought of somebody watching or noticing them, or having feelings for them. It can be perceived as disturbing in a workplace, where most people are simply there to work and get along.

“If it is unrequited love, (and you might discover that on Valentine’s Day) and there starts to be repeated and unwanted contact then that can constitute sexual harassment and a person could find themselves with some serious legal problems for misconduct,” she says.

Kathryn Beck says employees should also be aware of whether their work place has a policy around office relationships.

“You might be obliged to report the fact that you’re having a close personal relationship so that there’s no suggestion of conflict or favourable or unfavourable treatment of other people in a team,” she says.

What if the roses you purchased online are not what they seem when delivered?

Ms Beck says if these products are advertised as ‘beautiful roses’ or similar wording, they must be fit for business, not drooping.

“That’s what you’ve paid for and that’s what you should legitimately expect and if you don’t get it they should be replaced or refunded.

She says people have this protection under the Consumer Guarantees and Fair Trading Acts.


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