Holiday Office Parties & Sexual Misconduct

Companies in Rhode Island and throughout the United States host holiday parties for their employees to celebrate the festive season and another year of productivity. Such festivities consist of an extravagant dinner, an open bar, and even late-night dancing.

However, many employers have scaled back on holiday parties either by limiting the number of drinks each person receives, hosting them on a workday, or getting rid of these parties entirely. The main reason why is not because companies want to save money, but rather due to the Weinstein effect.

In October 2017, The New York Times and New York Post brought to light decades of sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein, a Hollywood mogul who would give actresses prominent roles in his films in exchange for sexual favors. Forcing Weinstein out of the film industry sparked the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement, which has inspired both men and women in all industries to call out inappropriate behavior of powerful individuals.

Since alcohol consumption at holiday office parties can often lead to sexual misconduct, many companies have stopped this event or made significant changes to avoid sexual harassment accusations. However, if your company is still hosting one, remember a drunk night can not only lead to getting fired from your job, but it may also result in criminal charges.

The following are several ways you can avoid being accused of sexual misconduct at a holiday office party:

  • Keep tabs on how much you drink – If your party has an open bar, avoid overindulging yourself with free drinks all night long. While consuming alcohol may help you loosen up, it may also make you behave in ways you wouldn’t normally act when you’re sober. Always keep in mind that you are at a work event and any inappropriate behavior can lead to job termination.
  • Do not flirt – If you have the urge to tell a female coworker she looks or smells really nice, just imagine you are telling the same thing to a male coworker. Sounds weird, doesn’t it? Although you may believe flirting is innocent, it is possible to make the person on the receiving end feel uncomfortable. Maybe uncomfortable enough to report your behavior to HR.
  • Do not touch – While you can shake another person’s hand, touching any other part of the body isn’t appropriate. Touching also includes holding and rubbing. If there is dancing at your party, stay within an arm’s length of your dance party, unless he/she is your spouse or significant other.

If you have been accused of a sex crime in Rhode Island, contact The Law Office of Thomas C. Thomasian, Esq. today at (401) 312-4385 and schedule a free consultation today.