Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Michael Oreskes, Brett Ratner, Louis C.K., Charlie Rose, and Matt Lauer are names we have become too familiar with over the past few months. Employers should keep in mind that social norms that are generally recognized in the workplace sometimes are forgotten when there is a party, especially a party with libations. A holiday office party can embolden inappropriate behavior, from simple innuendos to unwelcome touching.
Consider whether alcohol should be available, as most issues seem to arise from drinking. If you do decide to provide spirits, have someone (a designated responsible adult) watching to ensure that your workforce does not get too “relaxed” and cross the line. Possibly limit how much alcohol is served and assure there are designated drivers or taxis available. If a holiday party is voluntary and employees do not feel compelled to attend, employers in the United States are not required to compensate employees for their attendance. Review the plans for the party in advance to see if there are any activities that could be considered inappropriate or offensive to members of any protected class. Make sure that employees understand that the company’s policies and procedures, especially those related to conduct, are still in effect at the party.
If you have questions relating to party issues that might cause potential legal problems, or if you need post-party legal advice, contact the employment lawyers at your Ally Law member firm. For more information about our services in this area, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.