One of the traditions that the holiday season brings is office holiday parties. This is the time of year where employers regularly thank their employees for the service throughout the year. Indeed, what employee would not like a holiday party? Also, it is also an opportunity for employees to bond and socialize with other people in the organization that they would otherwise not have a chance to meet.
However, holiday parties can be fraught with peril for employers; especially when there is alcohol involved. Essentially, employees (and their friends) may take the opportunity to really have a good time and act in ways that they normally would not while at work. This could lead to awkward and inappropriate moments that could lead to sexual harassment lawsuits. As such, this post will focus on helpful tips employers can follow to protect themselves from holiday party shenanigans.
Remind employees of company policies – In advance of the party, sending out an email with references to the company’s policy on sexual harassment or decorum.
Establish rules regarding gifts – In the same vein, setting rules regarding gifts can set the expectation on what gifts are acceptable and what are not. Basically, you don’t want sexually charged gag gifts or racially insensitive gifts leading to lawsuits.
Follow up on complaints – In the event there are complaints of inappropriate behavior, it is critical for employers to investigate and take action. After all, an employer can be held liable for allowing harassment to continue after an employee has complained.
If you have additional questions about establishing and maintaining holiday party decorum, an experienced attorney can help.