Word Usage Pique

Incorrect word usage is something that really irritates me, both in my own writing and the writings of others, especially when you imagine the writer of what you’re reading to be a professional.

In doing some research into “business” writing I came across the paragraph below on an official government website. The piece was authored by an attorney (or at least a law firm attached its name to the writing. I know all too well that it may have indeed been “ghosted” by a non-lawyer, but that would make it even worse since you would expect a professional writer to not make the obvious mistake) and placed on a site for federal managers.

All of which would tend to make you think the wording would be exacting and precise. Unfortunately, it is not. See if you can spot the problem.

Actually, it’s not illegal to date a lower level employee. It may, however, be a bad idea. Over the past few decades, the American workplace – not just the federal workplace – has become a place where we spend more and more of our time, and thus a place where we’re apt to meet someone who peaks a romantic interest. That seems perfectly normal. It also seems normal to want to explore that interest by dating the colleague. Indeed, many federal employees have met his or her spouse at work. So why do so many of us think it’s illegal? Well, the explosion of sexual harassment cases in the 1990’s has left its mark. But technically it’s not against any federal law to date a co-worker, even someone lower in the chain.

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