During the holiday season, employers and employees should be aware of potential problems that can result from office holiday parties. Sponsors and participants both need to exercise good judgment at these events.
One of the first considerations is whether employees are paid for attending. If attendance at a party is required by the employer, overtime-eligible employees must be paid for being there. This is true even if the party is after normal working hours.
Even though Christmas is the common theme of such parties, there are other considerations in how it is presented. Today’s workplace is more diversified than ever. Just because the majority of employees may be of the Christian faith does not mean that the event should be cloaked in Christian music and decorations. Jingle Bells would be appropriate, while Silent Night should be avoided. Santa in his sleigh would be a better decoration than a nativity scene.
Alcohol is common at holiday parties, even during the daytime. The season seems like an invitation to relax the normal rules that apply to alcohol consumption. If alcoholic beverages are served, employers are well-advised to monitor behavior, and employees should self-regulate.
The use of bartenders to control the flow of beverages is a good idea. That way any revelers who have had too much can be refused additional alcohol. Party sponsors should also have arrangements made for transportation of those who are impaired.
Employers should also be watchful for inappropriate behavior brought on either by alcohol consumption or just the party spirit. Sexual harassment claims can arise out of untoward behavior at parties. Similarly, employees can subject themselves to discipline for being out of line.
Gift exchanges are also a common practice at office parties. Though less prone to problems, guidelines should be put out to regulate the scope of the exchange. In addition to dollar limits, which are common, it should also be pointed out that gag gifts that could be sexually or religiously offensive are prohibited.
Both employers and employees should bear in mind that even though holiday parties are about the season, they are still work-related events. Thus, basic workplace standards still apply. Contact Labor Law Office, APC today to speak with a professional sexual harassment attorney in Fairfield.
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