Cupid often strikes at work

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Diane and Willie Riley keep it so professional at work that many co-workers don't realize they're married.

The couple met at work and have been married for nearly 15 years. They work in different areas at the Comcast office in Augusta.

"When we get the opportunity, we try to have lunch," said Willie Riley, a technical instructor. "A lot of people are amazed that you can work with your spouse. I don't see how you can't. It's no problem."

Diane Riley, a dispatch supervisor, said their relationship is successful because they keep their work and home lives separate. Working in the same field is an added benefit because it helps them relate, she said.

As Valentine's Day approaches, love is in the air at many businesses. Though many companies don't have an official dating policy, it's important to know company preferences, said Jessica Epps, a master social worker at the Concern Employee Assistance Program.

Comcast doesn't have a written policy, said company spokesman Bill Botham, but its practice is in line with its nepotism clause, which says employees can't directly or indirectly be supervised by relatives.

Employees must report their relationship if their partner falls within the same line of supervision, so they can be moved to a different supervisor. They must also ensure their relationship doesn't interfere with their work, Mr. Botham said.

Russell Krueger, the owner of Ocozzio Inc. on Interstate Parkway, said his company also doesn't have an official policy.

"I think that would be a very restrictive and unproductive policy," he said about monitoring relationships. Six years ago, his wife, Joy, came to work at the marketing company.

Chuck Baldwin, the owner of French Market Grille, knows connections have been made at his restaurant. His chef, Scott Guyer, met his wife, Cindy, while she was working as a temporary employee during the Masters Tournament. They have been married for five years, Mr. Baldwin said.

And while it has seemingly worked out for those couples, Ms. Epps said she thinks dating a co-worker generally comes with a "whole load of problems."

"It's normally just a really bad idea. It's too hard to deal with all of the emotions that go on in a relationship at the workplace and at home. It's 24/7, no break from it," Ms. Epps said.

Melissa Fulwider, an accountant at Comcast, met her husband of almost seven years while they were working for a linen company in Dallas. If they had remained there, one of them would have had to find a different job to comply with the company policy.

She said she's glad she pursued the relationship anyway.

"Don't rule it out. You never know where you're going to find the person you're meant to be with," Ms. Fulwider said.

Reach LaTina Emerson at (706) 823-3227 or latina.emerson@augustachronicle.com.


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