To celebrate the festive season and another year of production and success, many companies throughout the United States host holiday parties that consist of fancy dinners, gift exchanges, open bar, and dancing all night long. However, a significant number of employers have recently tightened their budget for holiday parties or done away with them altogether.
The reason why isn't because companies want to save money, but because of the potential for sexual misconduct to occur at such parties. Ever since the #MeToo movement started after over 80 women accused Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of multiple sex crimes, more men and women of all industries have come forward with their own stories about inappropriate behavior in the workplace.
According to a 2015 survey conducted by the Cosmopolitan, one in three female workers experienced sexual harassment on the job during their lifetime. In a 2017 study by data marketer Brionna Lewis and Instamotor (auto company), one in three male workers don't believe catcalling is considered sexual harassment, while two in three men don't think repeated and unwanted invitations to dates, drinks, and dinner is sexual harassment.
So, when it comes to sexual harassment at a holiday party, not only will the company face a lawsuit (or more) for allowing such behavior to persist, but the individual accused of the act may face criminal charges.
If your company is throwing a holiday party this winter, take the following steps to avoid being accused of sexual misconduct:
- Watch how much you drink – Alcohol causes people to loosen their inhibitions and be braver when it comes to expressing their feelings. Remember, a drunken night at an office party can result in the loss of your job and potential criminal charges on top of that. Be aware of your limit and your behavior. Avoid telling your coworker how attractive she is and keep such comments to yourself.
- Avoid touching – Although it is perfectly fine to shake someone's hand, constantly touching any other body part is deemed inappropriate. If there is dancing involved, stay within an arm's length of the person you're dancing with.
- Keep gifts PG – If your holiday party involves gift exchanges, giving your coworker lingerie or edible underwear would lead to a meeting with HR. Clothing such as scarves and socks would be a better alternative.
If you have been accused of a sex crime in Ventura, contact Wilfert Law P.C. today at (805) 994-0560 for a free consultation. Our legal team understands the seriousness of these types of criminal charges and we will do our best to protect your rights, reputation, and future.