Human Resources

SBS 236: Tips For Having Harassment-Free Holiday Parties!

Hey Compliance Warriors!

So, last week we discussed holiday parties where it concerns alcohol and this week we are continuing that discussion with harassment-free holiday parties!

Link to article: https://rubinthomlinson.com/all-i-want-for-christmas-is-a-harassment-free-office-holiday-party/

Don’t forget to rate, review and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or Stitcher!
Enjoy and until next time, Be Audit Secure!


Lisa: Today we are going to share with you some really great information from an article that was written by a woman named Veronica Howard. She is affiliated with the law firm of Ruben Tomlinson. And the topic of her article here is all I want for Christmas is a harassment free office holiday party. So, in our last podcast we talked about alcohol and how not handling those issues appropriately can really ruin a lot of things, forever for a lot of people. So, in this one, we’re kind of in this post me too era now where me too is still very important. But we don’t want to lose sight just because we’re not talking about it every single day. We don’t want to lose sight of it.


Mason: Yeah, that’s right.


Lisa: And so, HR folks and business owners and so forth are gearing up for these ends of the year parties, whether you’re doing a holiday party or just an end of the year Thank you, party for your employees. It’s kind of all boils down to the same thing. As far as logistics, if we don’t think it through very carefully.


Mason: Yup, that’s right! And you want to make sure everybody is safe, and you want to have a respectful party for everybody involved.


Lisa: I thought it was interesting that she quoted a statistic in here, a survey that said 76% of U S companies plan to hold holiday parties this year, but only 65% last year because they were afraid of me too. So, people are kind of beginning, like I said, to kind of come back now and say, Oh, we want to have these parties again, but we’ve got to just be really careful that we don’t encourage and create conditions for our staffers to misbehave.


Mason: Yeah, that’s right. So, we’re going to talk about five tips taken from this article. The first one is making a list and check it twice.


Lisa: Yeah. So, the survey that, she quotes here said that of the companies that would hold holiday parties, only 58% were planning to address appropriate conduct with their staff prior to the party. So, I thought that was interesting that we think, well we don’t have to tell adults how to behave appropriately. But have you seen the news lately?


Mason: Yeah, it’s almost like you have to train your employees on how to act at a holiday party.


Lisa: Yeah, and that’s very true because here we’re talking about harassment and so there are some very famous court cases out there where the judge actually said to the employer, if only you had made the effort to train. So, in this situation too, why not issue Kind of a good reminder maybe at a staff meeting or through a group email or a video or something that you do that just says, Hey, it’s that of year again. We’re all going to be getting together. Let’s remember some key things.


Mason: You can and since you’ve probably already done your harassment training earlier in the year. Not sure. Whenever you do it, you can call back to that and say, remember our harassment training, this is a work function. The same rules apply.


Lisa: And for employers who haven’t yet embraced harassment training because they think they’re not required to do, that’s another podcast but, this is a great reminder that you are required to do this. And even though your state may not have it in statute, you just wait until there’s a problem and you find out how required you were. So, this is a great time just for opening up the dialogue.


Mason: Yup. That’s right. So, our next point here is calling back kind of to our last podcast where we talked about alcohol.


Lisa: Yeah. So, it says have a cup of cheer was our second one here. As an employer, we talked about our different types of liability and mitigating the risk of those liabilities. We want to consider maybe handing out drink tickets, having a cash bar instead of an open bar. If people have to spend their own money, they’re not probably going to drink as much. But I love the ticket or the wrist band idea to me just cut them off at a number and be prepared to monitor this consumption.


Mason: Yeah. And odds are that’s going to save you money as an employer as well. Cause you’re not just like, handing drinks out opening bottles left and right. You know, and usually having a catering service who brings that kind of thing.


Mason: Really a double-edged sword of goodness, also with the ticket system, as we talked about, people will space out their drinks too. They’ll be like, I’ll have one now, I’ll have one in two hours. By that two-hour time pass. You know, they’re sober. They’re fine. Everybody’s fine involved.


Lisa: Exactly. And this wasn’t in the article, but it occurs to me that, even if it’s on your site, hire an off-duty police officer.


Mason: Yeah.


Lisa: Just to kind of hang out and just monitor things for you. That also if there is a problem in the future, it will not diminish, but it will limit some of the liability that your company may suffer. Then if you’re having this at an offsite venue, then that venue is probably going to require off duty police officers to be, anyway, but just do it on your own. I mean it’s a great idea.


Mason: Yep. So just be prepared to monitor conception and cut people off if you need to.


Lisa: Yeah.


Mason: Okay. So, I liked the next point. It says said the night when to the little limb, do you see what I see?


Lisa: Yeah, so obviously that’s from a song, but let’s be serious, like at the party, we want to be on the lookout for anyone who may be in an uncomfortable situation. And if we see someone who’s coming on a little strong, whether it be male or female to male or female, we want to kind of step in and be able to say, Hey, how’s it going here? Realize that respectful workplaces are shared responsibilities. And really consider that management has a very high duty here to care for employees. Even if we’re all off the clock and we’re all partying and we’re not at the work site, you still set this baby up so it’s still your event. So really don’t be afraid to step in if you see something happening.


Mason: Yep. And that would be good idea to have your kind of higher ups, your managers in place to keep an eye out for you. Male and female like we brought out last week to intervene in a situation where if you see a woman coming on to a man so strong, maybe she can step out and be like, Hey, what’s going on You know, just keep your employees safe. And when it comes to uncomfortable situations, you definitely don’t want anybody walking away from the party where they’re going to have a lot of regret. Where they have to show up ashamed on Monday.


Lisa: Yeah. I mean people start, photocopying their bottoms, like we know that there’s going to be activities that really get out of control. So, anything, which, I know that’s a stupid analogy, but that is one of the old holiday party things. People photocopy their bottoms and boom; guess whose bottom this is. Like anything we see that starting to move as toward that direction. We want to put a stop to it.


Mason: For sure. And with your holiday parties, you want it to be one night, you don’t want it to drag out into the rest of the year for a court case and a lot of drama going on in the office, all this stuff to look out for your employees. Okay. So, the next kind of with that is, ho ho the mistletoe, just cause you’re standing underneath the plant doesn’t mean you’re consenting.


Lisa: Don’t mean you’re a ho.


Mason: Yeah, so male or female, you can’t just walk up and kiss somebody just because they’re standing underneath the plant. No matter what your tradition is. Their tradition may not be that.


Lisa: And even if and or like a normal circumstance, they might, be like, Oh, the mistletoe how cute. Don’t just assume. And like this always makes me think of all those mad men episodes and the parties that they had and stuff. And I mean, like in the old days, more recent days too, like people get into that partying spirit whether they’ve had alcohol or not, they still get into sort of a lighthearted, anything goes mindset, and anything doesn’t go. So, just be really careful. Maybe if you’re decorating, maybe you don’t even use mistletoe because that would just entice people toward that kind of behavior.


Mason: Yeah, it’s nice just to think of these things ahead of time too. It’d be like, yeah, Hey, that could possibly avoid a situation that I don’t need on me. Kinda thing cause I hung it up there.


Lisa: Exactly.


Mason: Okay. So, in our final point here, which we’ve talked about before, is Oh, what fun it is to ride home in a taxi or train. If you’re an employee going to these parties, employer arranging the parties. Make sure there’s an Uber or taxi. Public transportation in place. I’ve heard of even people hiring buses to bring to these things. They have private buses take everybody home, so that’s pretty good.


Lisa: That’s wonderful! I mean if you want to really throw it down and take a lot of risks here, you’re going to have to also take a lot of precautions. You just have to weigh it out and see what you decide, but even despite all your best efforts, sometimes there’s still going to be a harassment issue. There’s still going to be something you couldn’t see. You couldn’t stop. You prepared as best you could. So just already have a very solidly laid foundation with your staff. We go back to training, make sure you’ve trained, make sure you have policies that are up to date, make sure that this is a conversation part of your culture.


Lisa: Our culture is we are respectful toward one another.


Mason: And it’s nice to like, send out these emails inviting them to people. Throw the reminders in there too of how we act, how we do this, still on work premises, all that kind of stuff in a work situation.


Lisa: Absolutely.


Mason: Anyway, we’re not trying to scare anybody away from having fun. We just want everybody to be safe and Court free.


Lisa: Want to keep you out of the pokey. That’s right. Exactly. So, well I guess that’ll wrap us up for, this episode.


Mason: This has been a nice little series of just trying to help people out. Provide some reminders.


Lisa: Yeah. So, in our next podcast we’re talking about pay issues and we’re going to tackle three huge questions that have come in. So, we’re going to really kind of break that down for you.


Log in or Register to save this content for later.