The company holiday party may be a load of fun and a free meal, but for Iowans who can’t handle their liquor, that party could result in a lawsuit or their termination. Business consultant Mick Sheppeck says it’s possible one of your co-workers will consume too much holiday cheer and cross the line into sexual harassment.
“Sometimes it enters into the physical realm of touching or pinching and people doing innuendo or making lewd remarks and winking, ‘Hey, you know what I’m saying,’ that kind of thing,” Sheppeck says. He adds, if you have a crush on a co-worker, the company party is not the place to make your move.
“Two people who have some alcohol going and feel good and they do something but one of the two regrets it on Monday,” Sheppeck says. “The other person is saying ‘Hey, I thought we had something going there,’ that’s the beginning of another form of sexual harassment.” Sheppeck says holiday parties can be a nightmare for the human resources department as people will often do and say things they normally wouldn’t in a work environment. He says one particular danger is for an employee to say something inappropriate to a manager — or vice versa.
sheppeck says a boss may say, “I really want to say something about your performance in the last half a year but I haven’t had time to talk with you but now, I’m getting kinda’ loose and I’ll let the bombshell go, hey, you’ve really been doing a lousy job.” He says employees who make stupid mistakes at a company party could seriously harm their reputation — and may even end up unemployed.
“There’s the notion of ‘Oh, no he didn’t! What in the world did you say on Friday?’ And by Sunday, I’m thinking, did I really say that to the boss?” To avoid problems, many companies hold alcohol-free gatherings or due to economic setbacks, they have eliminated the parties altogether.