It’s important that as you make plans for a merry Christmas office party at the office, you consider some of the legal implications that might arise. Christmas parties are a chance for everyone at the office to have a few drinks and generally enjoy themselves.
However, such a less formal environment that should be all fun and games can very easily escalate into a free for all and an avenue for inappropriate behavior. Employers should know the legal issue that can arise from such a fiasco.
A lot of thought needs to be put into the venue, the day and the timing of the Christmas office party. During the party, it easy for employees to think that the normal rules don’t apply and as such behave in an inappropriate manner which could lead to claims for harassment or bullying.
Even though employers might not be held responsible for harassment by third parties, employee relations issues can be avoided by a careful consideration of the venue and people that will be present.
If there is going to be alcohol consumption during the party, provisions should be made for how employees would get home as employers could be held accountable if their employee drives home from a work event after drinking too much.
As an employer, if you receive complaints of harassment after the party, you should take them seriously and investigate them under their grievance procedures.
If the complaint is upheld, disciplinary action will be appropriate as it would be for any other incident of harassment.
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