Q & A Session – Dating a Subordinate


Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.


Is it wrong for a supervisor to date or have a relationship with a subordinate? Can a supervisor rent a room to that same subordinate?


Please review my column on sexual harassment in the federal workplace with a paragraph on dating subordinates.

While the situation you describe is not per se illegal if the relationship is willful, it may: 1) Violate agency rules against relationships with or dating of subordinates; 2) Create a claim of discrimination for the other women in the office; and 3) Raise favoritism issues that could constitute a prohibited personnel practice.


Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw Bransford & Roth PC.

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About Author

Debra Roth

Debra L. Roth is a partner at the law firm Shaw Bransford & Roth, a federal employment law firm in Washington, D.C. She is general counsel to the Senior Executives Association and the Federal Managers Association, host of the “FEDtalk” program on Federal News Radio, and a regular contributor to Federal News Radio’s “Federal Drive” morning show. Email your legal questions to lawyer@federaltimes.com.

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