Is it unprofessional and/or unethical for her to pursue this relationship? Would it prove problematic given that the other person was technically a former client?
I believe it depends on two factors:
- Whether there is a likelihood of that client being accepted for new work again.
- The industry you are in.
To explain - whilst on the project, the two individuals will have had equal access to any discussed intellectual property and sensitive material. If that's the only project undertaking, then I cannot see an issue.
However, it gets technical if for example the company deals in intellectual property belonging to multiple partners and there is a likelihood of the customer being signed up again. In this case, the relationship could be construed as inside information - and discussing work at home might potentially give away other companies' intellectual property.
If you're having trouble visualising that, let's take an example. Fred works for a big airline, IFly. He really likes Jill, who works for GoodEngines. IFly contract GoodEngines to make some engines, they do, all done, Fred and Jill start dating and so on. Then, IFly want some more engines making. GreatEngines submit some IP as part of their bid. Fred reviews the bid, but has a stressful day and goes home ranting to Jill about it. Over chicken fajitas, to which he's partial, he accidentally lets slip that GreatEngines are using SuperFuel to Jill. Whoops.
Usually, this sort of thing can be managed as with any conflict of interest. I would suggest the following action be taken:
- What does your contract say about it? Ultimately, it may be a breach of your T&Cs of employment to even engage in the relationship.
- What do management/HR say about it? I am not suggesting asking permission - however, assuming you are not barred from having said relationship, covering your bases by raising a potential conflict of interest would be a legitimate thing to talk to HR about.
Of course, this assumes a specific problematic scenario with which I have some experience (not necessarily romantic experience, however). Clearly, if it's just a paper order from your local stationary supplier, that's a bit different!