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Workplaces changing holiday parties to prevent sexual harassment

The holiday work party is quickly approaching. Unfortunately, many people across the United States have experienced sexual harassment at their holiday parties. As a result of the recent Me Too movement, many workplace holiday parties will not look the same this year.

According to a study by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, the majority of companies surveyed are choosing not to serve alcohol at holiday parties this year. While the study found only 40 percent of companies reported to not serving alcohol in 2016, at least 51 percent will not serve alcohol this year.

Besides limiting alcohol, many companies are hosting the holiday festivities during daytime hours and not allowing guests to bring plus ones. Additionally, TIME Magazine encourages employers to not string mistletoe, even during the day.

What constitutes sexual harassment at a work party?

According to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, sexual harassment includes “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.” Common examples of sexual harassment at holiday office parties can include:

  • Giving a coworker an inappropriate gift
  • Inappropriately touching a coworker
  • Using vulgar or sexually explicit language when chatting to or admiring a coworker
  • Managers asking people they manage to engage in sexual relations
  • Making unwanted sexual advances on a coworker

While limiting the amount of alcohol at holiday parties might help decrease some of the instances of sexual harassment, these situations can still occur. If you experience sexual harassment at your company’s holiday party, speak to an experienced employment law attorney. Laws are in place to protect employees from sexual harassment in the workplace. A holiday party provides no exceptions.