McNamee Hosea News & Press


Should Copies of Office Policy Accompany Work Party Invitations?

In a recent post, we touched on the possibility of sexual harassment suits arising out of holiday work parties. However, other types of awkward or unprofessional behavior might be as likely to emerge at such events, especially in the presence of alcohol. From an employment lawyer’s perspective, it may be possible to head off problems arising from holiday work parties with a preventive approach.

Many companies opt against serving alcohol at their holiday parties. The absence might not even be noticeable, as there are many seasonal drink alternatives to alcohol, such as sparkling fruit juices, ciders and cocoas and coffees. For those employers that will offer alcohol, choosing an offsite location and distributing drink tickets might be additional ways to encourage responsible employee behavior.

Perhaps the most cautious approach would be to include copies of the company’s written policies on substance abuse, sexual harassment and any other relevant topics with each individual invitation. Since most of those policies may also be available on the company’s internal website, abbreviated summaries with a citation to the online site might be an alternative.

Of course, an employer will want to ensure that its human resource policies are up-to-date before sending out those invitations. Although state and federal laws against discrimination and harassment in the workplace are well established, the case law applications of those protections continue to evolve. For that reason, it’s important to periodically revisit a company’s discrimination policies. A lawyer who specializes in employment law and is current on the latest developments could be a great asset in such efforts.

Source: The Business Journals, “Tips for avoiding holiday party problems that could hurt your company,” Harley Storrings