Sometimes, office romance makes headlines and ruins careers, like CNN head Jeffrey Zucker's affair with Allison Gollust and University of Michigan president Mark Schlissel, who had an affair with a direct report.

But most office romance flies under the radar -- except when it doesn't. All that contact tracing when someone tested positive for Covid? Turns out that HR noticed when Jane and John always showed up on the lists as having been together.

Honestly, though, the rules are set up to protect you and the company. And a little tip from the HR department: One-third of office romances end with someone getting fired. If you want to know why that number is so high, pay attention to these cautionary tales from the Evil HR Lady Facebook group

A double firing

If you think that as long as you don't report to each other, you'll be fine, that's probably the case -- unless you bring your physical relationship into the office. One HR person writes:

At my first HR job, the benefits manager would routinely meet the IT manager for a rendezvous in the basement bathrooms. They were both married. When the owner found out what they were doing in "his favorite bathroom," he fired them both. 

Vendors should also be off limits

When you find true love, it doesn't entitle that person to sell expensive systems to your company. And, in fact, you should recuse yourself from the purchasing decision, or at least disclose that you're in a relationship with a salesperson. 

Another HR director had an employee pushing hard for a new HR/payroll system. She was the expert, so the HR director relied on her -- until they found out she was having an affair with the salesperson.

Turns out she was married, and her husband was not happy:

He sent letters to our president and board of directors informing them of her conflict of interest. Had a whole conversation with her and the president and she emphatically denied it all, claiming that she and her husband were on the outs and that he was just bitter and trying to ruin her by any means necessary.

The employee ended up resigning over the whole mess.

The rules you may see as restrictive are just trying to save you (and your career) from yourself.

When even HR doesn't follow the rules

This poor HR person got a new HR director who immediately began an affair with another department's director. She writes:

They went on a company leadership retreat, and apparently that is when they made it "official". Upon returning from the retreat, they came to the company holiday party. After the CEO left, they started doing the salsa and bumping 'n grinding with each other. Everyone was shocked when they left together. They were both terminated for gross misconduct.

So, if you've got to bump and grind with a co-worker, do it at the bar and not at the office party. 

He should have failed the background check

HR just wants to company to run smoothly -- and they don't want any of their employees to end up on the 6 o'clock news for illegal behavior. This HR person had to deal with an obvious on-site affair and an arrest. She writes:

One department manager was sleeping with her assistant department manager (ADM). They tried to kept it secret. They would lock the office door and come out clothes all disheveled and hair a mess.

One day at lunch, I'm in the break room chatting with another team leader and we hear, "Hey isn't that [ADM's Name]???"

ADM was one of nine men who were busted in a prostitution ring set-up and the story ran on the news ALL DAY. I had to turn off the TVs and hide the remotes because employees kept turning to the news -- the story ran over and over as breaking news.

LOL what a mess that was.

When sleeping with the boss lacks benefits

One of the reasons for prohibiting relationships between managers and employees is to prevent preferential treatment. Well, this manager followed that guideline to a T and rated her lover poorly on the year-end performance appraisal. He was unhappy. The HR manager shared what happened next:

The direct report got mad at his low score (and no raise), so he spilled the beans to her husband, who also worked for our company. It was fun to watch the chaos from the sidelines, to say the least.

Maybe it's best to leave the romance out of the office and just meet people online. That's what most people do these days anyway, according to a Stanford University Study. That way, when things go south, it doesn't cause a scandal at work.