The holidays are a time to spend with loved ones, to exchange gifts, and to be merry throughout the season. However, it is also associated with potential issues for both employees and employers, especially when the latter fails to respect the former’s beliefs and time off.
While some employers have strong religious beliefs, others may not. Additionally, company holiday parties can lead to a host of issues due to alcohol consumption.
The following are the top five holiday employment issues you should look out for:
- Employers who force employees to say “Merry Christmas” on the job - Christmas is both a religious and secular holiday. However, sometimes employers may wish to protect their faith by requiring their employers to say “Merry Christmas!” According to the Texas Labor Code and Title VII, your boss cannot force you to participate in religious practices as a part of your job duties. On the other hand, the same laws prevent employers from stopping an employee from expressing their faith at work. Yet, employers may ask their employees to say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” to be more inclusive, as long as they’re not favoring one religion over another.
- Employers who allow employees to harass those for not participating in holiday activities - There are many workers who do not get into the spirit of the holidays or celebrate certain ones. When employers either force employees to participate in such activities or permit other employees to harass those not involved, the Texas Labor Code and Title VII state harassment due to declining participation may result in a hostile work environment.
- Employers who commit or allow sexual harassment - Since many holiday office parties have an open bar and a dance floor, people often loosen their inhibitions and become more expressive compared to how they regularly act in the office, which can lead to sexual harassment. Always remember that you are at a work event and you must always maintain your professionalism. Unwanted sexual advances from both fellow employees and employers are not allowed.
- Employers who commit or allow other forms of harassment - Alcohol not only affects a person’s sexual demeanor, but it also changes the conversational tone between one another to allow things to be more casual. When a conversation becomes too casual, it can lead to unwelcome topics such as race, gender, or sexual orientation. While these conversations may occur outside the office, they are still problematic if they involve fellow employees and employers.
- Employers who do not comply with wage laws for the sake of the holidays - In order for non-exempt, hourly workers to attend mandatory holiday work events, they must at least receive a minimum wage for each hour they participate. Employers who force these workers to attend such events without pay are breaking Texas and federal wage laws.
If your employer is violating your employee rights in Houston, contact Shellist Lazarz Slobin LLP today at (713) 352-3433 to discuss your case with our legal team.