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Sexual Harassment at Holiday Parties

It is always fun to let off some steam with colleagues off the clock. However, Sexual harassment at the office holiday party often occurs because your guard is down. The office holiday party is often a time of fun, getting to see your co-workers and supervisors outside of the office. Everyone is usually in a wonderful mood, joking, and just having a great time. However, many times, because people are outside of the office and alcohol may be involved, they forget that their behavior must be appropriate for work. Inhabitations are forgotten and sexual harassment can easily occur. Just because it is an office holiday party does not mean you have to accept the behavior and move on. Examples of sexual harassment at holiday parties include:

  • Inappropriate jokes

  • Sexual advances

  • Unlawful touching

  • Sexist comments

  • Giving sexually suggestive gifts

How to Avoid Harassment at Office party? The best way to prevent sexual harassment at the holiday party is to establish guidelines well in advance. Employers can:

  • Distribute a clear and concise holiday party policy that specifically addresses sexual harassment.

  • Remind employees that regular workday rules and policies apply to offsite functions.

  • Refrain from endorsing unofficial after-parties planned by employees

  • Arrange ride-share or other suitable transportation to and from the event.

  • Monitor alcohol consumption for all attendees or prohibit it altogether.

  • Train upper management on how to recognize the signs of sexual harassment and act accordingly.

Above all, it is important to create a culture where employees feel safe to report questionable behavior without retaliation or repercussions.

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