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Business casual is ruining business, says Miss Manners.

The business-etiquette columnist (aka Judith Martin) argues that casual business environments have all but destroyed formality in the workplace, with potentially disastrous results for you as a leader. Some examples:

Sexual harassment. With formality ( or, simply, “manners”) no longer holding improper behavior in check, flirting with co-workers has become grounds for legal action. Workplace interactions are too subtle for the blunt instrument of the law, Martin says. But without formality/manners, those who feel offended have little choice.

Overfamiliarity. “Even big-name executives will ask me, ‘So what do I get my assistant for Christmas?’” Martin says. “And I’ll say, ‘How should I know? And how should you know? You probably shouldn’t be so close to your assistant that you know her taste in perfume. Give her a bonus.”

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