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Preventing Sexual Harassment at the Office Holiday Party

December 9th, 2019
office holiday party

The office holiday party is a great way to mark the end of a great year and mingle with co-workers outside the office. It is always fun to let off some steam with colleagues off the clock. However, employees tend to be less guarded at festive celebrations, especially when alcohol is involved. Yet, work functions are generally subject to the same anti-discrimination laws and policies as the regular workday. Understanding more about what constitutes workplace sexual harassment is the first step toward avoiding costly and time-consuming litigation.

Defining Workplace Sexual Harassment

Throughout the country, state and federal laws prohibit sexual harassment based on certain categories, including race, nationality, age, and sex. Specifically, sexual harassment includes:

  • Unwelcome advances of a sexual nature
  • Requests for sexual favors
  • Other physical or verbal behavior of a sexual nature

At the office party, sexual harassment can be inappropriate gifts of a sexual nature, unwelcome touching, or offensive comments about a worker’s appearance. When an individual implies that a coworker will receive employment benefits or advancements in return for sexual favors, that is called quid pro quo. When gender-related harassment becomes so persistent and severe, the victim may find it impossible to do their job.

Establish Guidelines

The best way to prevent sexual harassment at the holiday party is to establish guidelines well in advance. Employers can:

  • Distribute a clear and concise holiday party policy that specifically addresses sexual harassment
  • Remind employees that regular workday rules and policies apply to offsite functions
  • Refrain from endorsing unofficial after-parties planned by employees
  • Arrange ride-share or other suitable transportation to and from the event
  • Monitor alcohol consumption for all attendees or prohibit it altogether
  • Train upper management on how to recognize the signs of sexual harassment and act accordingly

Above all, it is important to create a culture where employees feel safe to report questionable behavior without retaliation or repercussions.

 What to Do If You are Sexually Harassed at a Work Event

While these precautions will go far to prevent unwelcome and illegal sexual overtures and propositions, harassment can still happen at the holiday party. If you are the victim of sexual harassment at any work function, notify your employer and contact a Philadelphia sexual harassment lawyer as soon as possible.

Philadelphia Sexual Harassment Lawyers at The Gold Law Firm P.C. Represent Workplace Sexual Harassment Victims

The last thing most people want to deal with at the office holiday party is an unwelcome lewd comment or physical advance. The Philadelphia sexual harassment lawyers at The Gold Law Firm P.C. understand the laws in this regard and use every available legal remedy to stop the harassment and recover compensation for victims. For a free consultation, call us at 215-569-1999 or contact us online. Located in Philadelphia and Pennsauken, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, northeast Philadelphia, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, and South Jersey.

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