To celebrate the holidays and the end of another year for prosperity and productivity, companies throughout Massachusetts and the rest of the United States host parties with fancy dinners and gift exchanges, as well as open bars and late-night dancing. Yet, employers have been scaling back these annual holiday parties in recent years to avoid sexual harassment allegations that lead to criminal charges, costing employees their jobs and put companies at risk for lawsuits.
Ever since the #MeToo movement began after Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein faced a plethora of sexual assault and harassment accusations that forced him out of the film business, there has been a significant rise in women and men who have had enough with inappropriate behavior in every industry, including the corporate world.
According to a 2018 holiday party survey by the employment agency Challenger, Gray & Christmas, almost 27 percent of companies said they never host holiday parties, which is the highest number since the survey started in 2004. Out of the 65 percent of companies that plan to host a party, 58 percent of them have addressed the #MeToo movement.
If your company is hosting a holiday party this year, the following are several steps to take to avoid sexually harassing or assaulting someone at the event:
- Avoid or limit alcohol consumption – If there is an open bar, please remember that being completely intoxicated can jeopardize your career. Alcohol can make people let their guards down and make them become more courageous and honest about their attraction toward another person at the party. Limit the amount of drinking—or avoid it entirely—if alcohol can cause you to behave inappropriately or say something you shouldn’t have.
- No touching – Besides shaking hands, touching another person’s body part or resting your hand their shoulder for too long isn’t appropriate. If there is dancing involved, although it is perfectly fine to get your groove on, keep yourself at an arm’s length away from your coworkers.
- Ensure your gift is in good taste – When it comes to Secret Santa and white elephant gift exchanges, make sure you avoid gag gifts such as edible underwear or anything sexual in nature.
If you have been accused of sexual misconduct, even false allegations can make you appear guilty in the eyes of your employer, coworkers, the community, and the media before you step foot in court. At Brad Bailey Law, we can protect our clients’ rights, reputation, and future throughout the legal process in order to obtain the most favorable outcome in their cases.
For more information about our experienced and award-winning legal services in Boston, contact us today at (617) 500-0252.