Sexual harassment cases altering Christmas party plans

- It’s almost a daily occurrence at this point. Someone famous or powerful gets fired for allegations of sexual harassment. Some call it the "Weinstein effect" and it’s causing some companies to think twice about having an open bar at the annual Christmas party.

“It’s something that’s on everybody’s mind and it’s causing employers to reevaluate how they do Christmas parties and how they conduct after hour activities,” says employment attorney Kevin Troutman.

Even though the party isn’t at the office, all the company rules and policies remain in place.

If you do drink, don’t try to be the jokester or the life of the party, especially if you’re a supervisor.

“They should consider their remarks very carefully because an off-color joke can absolutely come back to haunt them,” says Troutman.

When it comes to co-workers of the opposite sex, Troutman advises that you keep your hands to yourself.

“Physical contact is one of the most significant indicators when you’re doing a legal analysis of whether or not there’s been some sort of actionable harassment,” explains Troutman.

Complimenting a co-worker of the opposite sex on their appearance or clothing should also be avoided.

“The determinative factor is usually going to come down to how is it viewed by the person who hears the comment,” says Troutman. “Not how it was intended by the person who makes the comment.”

The one thing no company Christmas party should ever include is mistletoe.

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