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The Work Week with Bassford Remele
October 30, 2023
Welcome to another edition of The Work Week with Bassford Remele. Each Monday morning, we will publish and send a new article to your inbox to hopefully assist you in jumpstarting your work week.
Bassford Remele Employment Practice Group
The Tricks to Making the Workplace Halloween Party a Treat
Michael J. Pfau
Every year, employers debate whether to throw a workplace Halloween party or allow their employees to dress up for the occasion. While workplace events and allowing costumes can be a great team-bonding experience, there are still risks and considerations for employers to contemplate.
Consider this example. You throw a Halloween event that allows employees to wear costumes. One of your female employees comes to work wearing a doctor costume, and her male supervisor tells her, “[h]ere Doctor. It hurts here,” while pointing at his groin. That incident then becomes evidence in a sexual harassment claim brought by that female employee against the company in which she is awarded $750,000 in the end. Sadly, this is not a hypothetical situation, but a scenario based on a case here in Minnesota. Duane v. Sears Home Improvement Products, Inc., No. C5-03-305, 2003 WL 22999363, at *2 (Minn. Ct. App. Dec. 23, 2003). Maybe this an extreme example, but it goes to show how a seemingly innocent Halloween event can morph into a much larger issue if employers do not take certain precautions.
To prevent that nightmare scenario, employers should consider the following in deciding whether to throw that Halloween event or let employees dress up and how to go about doing so:
There are ways to throw a successful Halloween party or allow employees to dress up while minimizing your exposure to potential issues or liability. At Bassford Remele, we regularly advise and counsel employers on updating policies, handbooks, and employee duties to remain compliant with changing laws. Please feel free to reach out if you need any assistance in developing a proactive plan to ensure future compliance.
The Work Week with Bassford Remele, 10/30/23 (print version)
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