With Christmas next week and New Year’s the following week, many employees are eagerly looking forward to spending time with family and friends. Employers often like to reward employees for a hard years work by having some sort of holiday party. While these are meant to be good natured and fun, they can get out of hand.
In a setting in which alcohol is typically served and everyone is outside of the office, coworkers can feel more inclined to relax, and at times can cross the line. Sometimes that line means that a coworker ventures into the territory of sexual harassment. Similarly, a holiday party can aggravate an already tense situation in which an employee may have previously felt uncomfortable by a coworker’s behavior.
How much of a risk is sexual harassment at company functions?
- 30 percent of individuals report flirting at a holiday party
- 26 percent report a supervisor disclosed too much personal information at a holiday part
- 9 report having knowledge of a supervisor or another employee engaging in sexual activity during or following a company holiday party
It is important for employees to know that the same policies and rules of the office apply even on company outings. This means that sexual harassment should still not be tolerated. If an employee is sexually harassed or propositioned at a company holiday party, the employer is still obligated to act to address the claims. Failing to do so could result in serious consequences that leave the employer vulnerable to a sexual harassment lawsuit.
Source: HR.BLR.com, “Preventing sexual harassment at holiday parties,” Dec. 3, 2012