At this time of year, it is customary for businesses and organizations to have holiday parties. Depending on where you work, the gathering may be at the office or at a separate location. Regardless of where the party is, it is not uncommon for people to “let their hair down” and have a good time. This is especially true when people are liberal with their alcohol consumption, or mistletoe leads to awkward moments.
While this may make for good office gossip, it could also lead to sexual harassment complaints. However, a little holiday fun is nothing to lose your job over. Because of this, we offer a few helpful tips about holiday party rules.
Remember what you learned in kindergarten – The rules about touching and personal space that you learned when you were five still apply, and they will likely keep you out of trouble. Sexual harassment complaints often stem from inappropriate touching.
Don’t engage in drinking games – As we alluded to before, excessive alcohol consumption tends to lead to inappropriate actions at holiday parties. So to avoid this possibility, don’t promote or participate in drinking games, no matter how much fun it may seem to be.
Keep holiday office gifts professionally appropriate – Simply put, Christmas “gag gifts” such as lingerie and sex toys are inappropriate. The same could be said about racially insensitive gifts.
Check your handbook – It is prudent to review your employee handbook to remind yourself of what specific actions can be taken against you in the event a sexual harassment claim is lodged against you.
If you have additional questions about what to do about sexual harassment claims, an experienced employment law attorney can help.