Employers will often throw parties for Halloween, thinking it could help with morale and team building. However, Halloween has become a celebration that can have more opportunities to cross the line and can set the stage for sexual harassment, discrimination, and hostility in the workplace; among other violations of employment laws and regulations.
Below are 6 tips to help protect your workplace during Halloween celebrations and activities:
- Sexual harassment, religion, race, and politics are easy ways to discrimination and/or harassment litigation. Allowing catwoman suits (or other sexy costumes), Nun outfits (or other religious costumes), blackface (or other racial costumes), and/or political costumes, which can be especially problematic in the midst of a contentious U.S. presidential election; can cause litigation nightmares. Therefore, consider implementing a Halloween Dress Code policy to avoid those issues.
- Costumes, decorations, and/or activities should be office appropriate and not offensive to co-workers and peers. When in doubt … don’t do it!
- Don’t make it mandatory for everyone to attend. Remember some people don’t celebrate Halloween, in some cases for religious reasons.
- Images of ghosts, skeletons, devils, etc., do not go over well in all workplace settings; and could even cause harassment headaches. It may be a good idea to avoid those types of images if they are offensive to others and/or inappropriate for your workplace.
- Review decorations to ensure they do not violate fire or safety codes.
- Avoid alcohol at Halloween parties in the workplace, as ingestion of alcohol can cause accidents and safety issues; and can be litigious if an employee drives away under the influence.
It is important to be informed about what can happen to maintain Halloween workplace appropriateness and safety. This does not mean you cannot partake in having Halloween festivities; but it does serve as a call to attention about what can happen and what to look out for so that celebrations and activities do not get out of hand. Keep your workplace protected.