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Fewer company holiday parties due to sexual harassment concerns

If your workplace is hosting a party this holiday season, you may feel a mixture of excitement and nervousness. Perhaps you look forward to letting loose with your co-workers without worrying about work. Maybe you are not sure what to get for your secret Santa recipient. You may even be dreading running into the person who keeps hitting on you, especially if there will be alcohol at the celebration.

Unwelcome sexual advances and discussions are never okay in any workplace environment, even if it is a party. According to a CNBC report, more employers are refusing to hold holiday parties to prevent sexual harassment from occurring. Even employers who decide to have a celebration have chosen to forego providing alcohol. Workplaces are trying to avoid creating a situation where inappropriate incidents may happen. If your employer is still throwing a party this year, here are some tips for recognizing and responding to inappropriate behavior.

Common forms of sexual harassment

Various actions may constitute sexual harassment at your workplace party, including:

  • Giving suggestive, sexual or inappropriate presents
  • Unwelcome or excessive dancing, hugging or kisses
  • Making sexual comments
  • Playing uncomfortable games like twister, spin the bottle or truth or dare
  • Making propositions for sexual acts

Employees and supervisors alike may be more prone to this type of inappropriate behavior when consuming alcohol. 

What to do about it

If you have any type of encounter that makes you feel violated or uncomfortable, you should take these actions:

  • Take notes of the experience as soon as possible
  • Identify witnesses
  • Tell the human resources department or appropriate supervisor about the situation
  • Talk to an employment law attorney if your employer takes retaliative action against you or does not resolve the issue 

You may want to file a claim with the government or even serve your employer with a lawsuit if you experience sexual harassment at a holiday celebration.

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