Sexual Harassment at Office Holiday Parties: What You Need To Know

With Christmas and other winter holidays just around the corner, you may be gearing up to attend another holiday party at the office. While office parties can be a great way to relax and get to know your co-workers, these types of functions can easily get out of control, which may lead to uncomfortable or dangerous situations.

This holiday season, discover the potential risks associated with holiday parties and find out what you can do to protect yourself.

What Makes Holiday Parties Dangerous?

Most office parties cater to a more adult crowd, which means they are very likely to serve alcohol. While alcohol cannot be treated as the scapegoat for the irresponsible or cruel actions of others, it can be a contributing cause.

Enjoying a couple of alcoholic beverages can be a great way to unwind and relax, but they can also lower inhibitions and make people act in ways they might not on a normal basis. At an office party, the consumption of alcohol can have a significant role in causing a sexual harassment case. When people drink with coworkers or associates, the line between professional and personal can become blurry, resulting in overstepped boundaries and potentially harmful actions. For some people, the consumption of alcohol might also serve as an excuse to get away with things they might not attempt under normal circumstances. In recent years, several companies across the U.S. have cut drinking from their holiday parties altogether in an attempt to avoid these harmful situations.

How To Protect Yourself As an Employer

As an employer, there are several things you need to do in order to make your workers feel safe and to protect your business from liability. First of all, you should set ground rules and make sure that the festivities are held in a safe, controlled environment. If you choose to allow alcohol at your event, do so in a limited capacity. As a rule, one of the best things you can do before a function like this is to discuss your legal options with an attorney, just to be certain your company and your workers remain safe.

Staying Safe As an Employee

If you are worried about your safety at an office party, or any other work function, you should always make your feelings clear to your superior. You should never have to attend a function that makes you feel uncomfortable or unsafe. That being said, if you do attend your holiday office party, stay sober and aware of your surroundings. Everyone has the right to a safe, comfortable workspace, so if you are having any trouble with harassment in your office, you have every right to speak up.

Although a holiday party may not be your typical day in the office, any case of harassment at a work function can still be extremely damaging, emotionally and physically. For this reason, any case of harassment that takes place at a work function should still be taken just as seriously as any other workplace complaint. If you were harmed at your office party, or even if you are just planning an upcoming work function, make sure you talk about your situation with our Houston employment lawyers.

To discuss your harassment case with our experienced Houston employment lawyers, contact Shellist Lazarz Slobin.