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Holiday Office Parties In the Era of the #MeToo Movement

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Since the dawn of the #MeToo Movement, corporations around the country have had to rethink their annual holiday parties. As more and more cases of quid pro quo harassment attract national media coverage, employers are discovering the need to reduce the risk of sexual misconduct. Let’s take a look at why, and how:

Cutting the Booze Out of Company Christmas Parties

According to a survey conducted by Challenger, Gray, & Christmas, a highly-regarded consulting firm in Chicago, less than half (49 percent) of companies are planning to serve alcohol at their holiday parties in 2019, compared to 62 percent of companies in 2018. That number had been rising with the economy each year before the sudden pivot, which is likely the result of increased awareness about sexual misconduct in the American workplace. 

Drinking With Coworkers — Too Risky?

Companies are increasingly cutting booze out of their holiday party plans because, in many cases, it’s simply too much of a risk. When you get your employees together to get tipsy at an off-site venue, many will let their guards down and deviate from the ‘good behavior’ they display on a typical workday. If someone has too much to drink, inhibitions may be reduced, and unwanted sexual advances could be made — and that can cause problems for all parties involved.

Holiday Office Party Best Practices

If you’re an employer, there are a few things you can do to prevent any misconduct. For instance, you should post your sexual harassment policy or re-publish it before the party takes place — if you have one. If not, this is an ideal time to implement an official and written policy on sexual harassment and misconduct.  

Additionally, you can get your management team involved, conferring with them on the proper conduct you expect from employees during the party, and how to appropriately address employees who are unruly or become overly intoxicated.

What to Do If You’re Harassed at a Holiday Office Party

If a manager or coworker makes unwanted sexual advances towards you at an office party, including quid pro quo in the workplace and other forms of sexual misconduct, do not hesitate to take action. The Law Firm of Morgan Rooks PC can provide excellent legal support if you have been subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace or at a company-sponsored event — we are on the employee’s side. Contact us today to consult with one of our experienced lawyers about your case.