My colleagues and I go out every Friday for happy hour before heading our separate ways, and normally it’s no dramz because most people have significant others and none of us want to screw up our jobs by messing around at the office. But last week, one of my colleagues invited our interns out with us (we’re all in our mid- to late twenties and most of our interns are barely 21, if they are even 21) and, two drinks in, he was definitely hitting on the really cute one. As bad as it would be if we were hooking up with one another, it seems like a whole new kind of bad for one of us to start hooking up with one of the interns we nominally supervise. I texted him later about it, like, please tell me you aren’t hooking up with here, but he kind of took it as a joke.
Texting someone when you’re both drinking is not the same as voicing serious concerns to them in person — and hitting on a junior staffer, even an intern, can have potential consequences above and beyond the inevitable potential hairiness of office romance. The power differential, as well as the intern’s age, could well lead that person to feel that they are working in a hostile environment, or they could feel pressured into responding or, even if they respond, they could feel the environment turns hostile if/when the relationship goes badly.
If your colleague is remotely close, it’s a good conversation to have with him; if he’d not, get someone with whom he is close to have it. Worst case, get a consensus opinion among your regular crew that interns aren’t invited out on Fridays and make yourself available as a business-y resource to the interns so that you can maybe get a bead on his behavior and her reaction. And definitely, definitely make sure you have the HR person on speed dial: if it comes down to it and he really fucks this up, you don’t want to be someone the intern can point to as having known and done nothing.
If you have a problem with a friend, relative, coworker, or other person in your life, email Megan at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have a problem with your boyfriend, you should probably just try talking to him.