Work Holiday Party
Los Angeles, CA
Find out how you can prevent a lawsuit at your work holiday party.
The holiday season is quickly approaching and the looming combination of eggnog and spiked mulled cider increases the risk of sexual harassment or abusive behavior claims. Office holiday parties are a time for employees to relax, let loose, have some eggnog, and connect with colleagues on an informal, more personal level. Unfortunately, some people mistakenly believe that because this festive environment is less formal than the typical workday, the organization’s professional rules no longer apply. Workplace policies prohibiting sexual and other forms of unlawful harassment DO apply to organization-sponsored events including the annual holiday office party.
The law states that sexual harassment can be defined as follows:
“It is unlawful to harass a person (an applicant or employee) because of that person’s sex. Harassment can include “sexual harassment” or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general. Both victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex. Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted). The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer” reference US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Sexual Harassment Training California
The chances for unwanted sexual advances or physical confrontations to occur at the holiday party may increase in proportion to the availability of alcohol at the event. This is especially true if employees haven’t recently participated in sexual harassment training. The experts at Bridge Safety Consultants offer comprehensive sexual harassment training customized to the needs of your business for this upcoming holiday season.
Too much eggnog is no excuse for inappropriate behavior. What is intended to be a fun time for all can easily derail into sexual harassment allegations if employees are not properly reminded of rules and expectations. This is why it’s a great idea to host a sexual harassment training before the holiday season begins.
Even if an office holiday party occurs off-site, all employees must remain professional in attitude, personal appearance and behavior and show the same respect and professionalism to colleagues at events outside of the physical workplace as they do within it. Policies should be clearly stated, even repeatedly, for all guests. Bridge Safety Consultants will offer tips for Dos and Don’ts when throwing an end-of-the-year celebration so that everyone feels included and comfortable. The right preparation will greatly reduce the risk of sexual harassment accusations.
Lawsuits are both time consuming and potentially extremely expensive for you and your company. Aside from the legal risks, organizations that fail to prevent sexual harassment may face damage to their reputation, profit margin, employee morale, and worker productivity. Therefore, it’s important that employees be aware of the law and how your company enforces it, before alcohol gets mixed into the equation.
Preventing a sexual harassment lawsuit
A company-sponsored holiday party, especially one with alcohol, can create an increased risk of liability for employers. So, remain vigilant and consistent as you plan these events. Make sure everyone is clear about what does and does not qualify as sexual harassment before the first glass is served. The best way to do this is through Bridge Safety Consultants’ clear and comprehensive sexual harassment training workshops.
These trainings also send a clear message to your employees by relaying a consistent message across the company. They can encourage a sense of community, by allowing various actors in your company to participate and interact together. It’s important that your workplace have a clear policy and course of action for handling sexual harassment claims. It’s equally important that your employees have a clear understanding of what qualifies as sexual harassment and what does not. A comprehensive sexual harassment training must cover examples of sexual harassment and provide substantial time for questions that may arise during the training.
It’s important to set expectations for acceptable and unacceptable behavior before the party begins. So book your sexual harassment training here now. With a little forethought, this year’s holiday event can be fun, without turning into a fiasco. Happy Holidays!