As the holiday season approaches, so do the myriad of office holiday parties. While this is considered a fun and festive time to let loose with your coworkers, it is unfortunately a time when sexual harassment can occur. This is especially prevalent when there is alcohol served at the party. In many cases, some people in the office can overindulge and use poor judgement. This can often lead to an act of harassment that can impact several people in the workplace. The following are some things to keep in mind so that your office party does not end up with an incident of sexual harassment:
Review the Sexual Harassment Policy
If you know that your party will include alcohol, or even if it does not, now is a great time to review the corporate sexual harassment policy. If you are the boss or in charge of a group of workers, it would be ideal to have everyone in the workplace review the policy ahead of any holiday gatherings so that it is fresh in their minds. It is crucial to know what constitutes harassment and what does not. What you think may be an innocent act can be construed as harassment by someone else, so everyone needs to be clear.
Sexual Harassment While Not on the Job
One mistake many people make at an after-hours office gathering is that the rules do not apply since you are not working or are on the clock. You are most definitely protected even if you are not working, and your boss has the obligation to protect anyone from sexual harassment at a party.
If you are harassed, or have witnessed harassment, you have several options. The first thing to consider is filing a complaint with human resources. You will then need to follow the outline of the sexual harassment policy in your workplace.
Filing a Complaint
If you choose to file a sexual harassment complaint, you may want to consider speaking with an attorney either just before or after doing so. You will get the best advice on how to keep yourself protected from the possibility of retaliation in the workplace. If you file a sexual harassment complaint and then are demoted or your hours are decreased, this is unlawful retaliation and should be dealt with by your attorney.
When having fun at an office holiday party, it is perfectly acceptable to have a great time. However, everyone needs to be responsible for his or her actions and ensure everyone behaves professionally so that no sexual harassment of any kind occurs. For more information, contact a sexual harassment attorney.