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The Many and Varied Potential Forms of Harassment that Can Happen at Holiday Parties in New Jersey

The high visibility of movements like #metoo has changed many things about workplaces when it comes to sexual harassment. Some employers are rightly taking long, hard looks at established practices and assessing whether or not they are healthy or harmful. That includes holiday parties. Some employers are changing the way they do their parties, while others are doing away with them entirely. While eliminating these parties completely may not be necessary, certain changes are potentially helpful in working to stave off the sexual harassment that was a staple at too many work-related holiday events. If you have suffered sexual harassment at a holiday party or anywhere else work-related, be sure to contact a knowledgeable New Jersey employment attorney about your situation.

CBS News reported that a survey conducted by an executive outplacement firm showed that fully 35% of businesses declined to hold holiday parties in 2018, the highest percentage since 2009, when the U.S. economy was still feeling the effects of the recession. Of the 65% holding parties, more half (58%) “reported addressing the #MeToo movement with their staff this year.”

Many companies holding parties are being proactive to minimize ingredients for harassment. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that some have eliminated alcohol from their seasonal events completely. One business, a California-based employment search website, took that action this year after problems last year. According to the report, the company’s 2017 party included not one but two drunken employees (one female and one male) who groped others at the party.

For employers who do not wish to eliminate alcohol entirely but want to reduce the chances of potential incidents of harassment fueled by excessive alcohol consumption, limiting alcohol availability is one option. This can include placing a cap on drinks through the dispensing of drink coupons, or not offering hard liquor at the event.

Potential party harassment can go beyond just booze-fueled sexual impropriety

While many parties may be formal or semi-formal affairs with participants in dresses and suits, some employers opt to conduct their parties as more “fun” affairs with annual themes. However, an ill-considered or insufficiently contemplated choice may result in a theme that this insensitive to employees from other cultures, such as Native Americans, people of Asian descent or African-Americans. A poorly chosen theme may also lead to sexual harassment-related problems if the theme appears to condone or encourage inappropriate behavior. (Think mistletoe and the somewhat traditional connotations that go with it).

Whatever the means, employers seeking to curtail those things that can give rise to harassment is a positive step. However, this kind of harassment still goes on. If you are an employee, and you are harassed at your holiday party by an inebriated co-worker, you may have a claim for sexual harassment, especially if the employer did nothing to curb over-indulging and particularly if the employer made your attendance at the party mandatory. If that happened to you, consult the professional and diligent New Jersey employment attorneys at Phillips & Associates. Our attorneys are here to help you pursue your case to get what you deserve. Reach us online or at (609) 436-9087 today to set up a free and confidential consultation and to find out how we can help you.

More blog posts:

How the Hostile Environment at Your Workplace May Entitle You to Compensation in a Sexual Harassment Case in New Jersey, New Jersey Employment Lawyer Blog, March 28, 2018

Job-Related Holiday Parties, Alcohol, and Sexual Harassment in New Jersey, New Jersey Employment Lawyer Blog, Dec. 4, 2017

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