People at work are paid to be friendly, and it’s a violation of the unspoken social contract to mistake niceness for sexual availability.

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Even “innocent” or polite sexual attention can be unwelcome if it’s pervasive, or if all parties aren’t mature enough to handle hearing a “no.” Treating a female coworker as a romantic prospect can undermine her confidence or suggest that she's seen more as a sexual prospect than a valued peer.

It's also possible that there will be awkwardness, hard feelings, or even retaliation in the wake of a break up or a firm rejection.

In order for office dating to be genuinely consensual, we have to look at what exactly constitutes consent.

Rape culture conditions men to ignore or disbelieve women when they say "no"—and it conditions women not to say "no" in the first place.

Interestingly, the e-mails were found in a private account and created on Womack's personal computer, not at the workplace.

Todays workplace is nothing short of technologically driven, so it should come as no surprise that technologyand in particular, emailplays a starring role in most sexual harassment claims.As in affirmative sexual consent policies, it changes the burden of proof: Instead of making it the job of the person who was asked to prove that she (and it is still usually a woman) said "no" clearly enough, the asker must prove that he got a "yes" that would be legible to any reasonable listener.Of course, this policy assumes that coworkers should be allowed to ask each other out.In this situation, even the “consent” that does happen is often unhappy and coerced.As psychologist Sandy Pearce wrote in 2014, “some men are trained to persist—to not take no for an answer—until women find it so emotionally distressing they may say yes just to make the pressure stop." This is especially likely at work, where women need to maintain a friendly professional demeanor, and have extra incentive not to get branded as “cold” or “difficult.” The one-ask rule reverses the power dynamic, so that the behavioral onus rests, not on the person being asked, but on the person asking.This is exactly what the Wal-Mart case has brought attention to.