Halloween at work can be a tricky and difficult time. Employers will often throw parties to celebrate this festive, spooky time of year, thinking that it can help with morale and team building. But Halloween in the workplace is unique from other company events in that it can set the stage for sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace, among other violations of employee rights.
It is important to be informed about what can happen to maintain Halloween work safety. This does not mean you cannot participate in the festivities, but it does serve as a call to attention about what can happen and what to look out for when parties get out of hand. Know your rights and stay protected.
Know Your Rights Regarding Sexual Harassment at Halloween Parties
The atmosphere of Halloween at work can be a lot of fun — but that fun can go too far and sometimes lead to sexual harassment. When the time comes for the party, people dress up in all types of costumes — from sexy to scary to silly, and everything in between. Coworkers or bosses may feel emboldened to do things they should not do whether or not the party has an open bar or even just a bowl of fruit punch.
Women are particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment at Halloween parties, but men can get harassed too. Here are a couple of scenarios that could violate your employee rights and amount to sexual harassment in the workplace.
A female employee comes to a workplace Halloween party dressed up as Catwoman in a tight, black, costume. She is enjoying herself and talking to two coworkers while eating a few snacks. Her direct supervisor comes over to join the conversation and pushes his way between her and the person next to her. After several minutes of glaring at her in the costume, he reaches behind her and rubs her backside without her permission and says while he is laughing, “What is Catwoman going to do now?”
This is a blatant violation of her workplace rights and should never be tolerated. Unsolicited and unwanted behavior of a sexual nature during Halloween at work is covered under Title VII employment discrimination claims. If something of this nature has happened to you, you may have a case.
A male employee comes to a workplace Halloween party dressed up as Superman with the full costume, including tight spandex. He has several cocktails and is sitting by himself, smiling, looking around the room. His manager comes over and sits by him, leering at him and making him uncomfortable. She says to him, “I want to see what is under that costume. If you don’t show me, I’m not going to give you that bonus you’re expecting.”
This is also a blatant violation of workplace rights and can create an intimidating, hostile work environment. If the manager follows up with her threat or if he goes to human resources and complains and then gets fired — that could also constitute workplace retaliation. Workplace retaliation is not only illegal, but it can also cause lasting damage to an employee’s career. If any of the above situations sound familiar (or something similar), you should consult with an >employee rights attorney. We offer free, confidential consultations to help you determine the best legal decisions moving forward.
Know Your Rights Regarding Discrimination at Halloween Parties
Discrimination in the workplace is another area of employee rights that people should be aware of at Halloween parties. There are several types of discrimination, from racial discrimination to religious discrimination that may occur during Halloween in the workplace, which is also unacceptable and should never be tolerated. Here are two scenarios that serve as examples for you to be aware of your rights:
A Caucasian male employee comes to the party dressed up as a rapper and has placed very dark makeup on his face. This is offensive and makes several African-American co-workers present very uncomfortable and upset. A situation like this can create a hostile work environment and can amount to workplace discrimination.
A Caucasian male employee comes to the Halloween party dressed up as Hitler in full uniform and performing the “Heil, Hitler” salute. This is offensive and makes several Jewish co-workers present very uncomfortable and upset. This, along with any other hate group affiliated figure such as a member of the KKK, should never be tolerated at Halloween in the workplace. It can create a hostile work environment and can also amount to workplace discrimination.
A Focus on Halloween Work Safety from Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A.
At Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A., we are here to inform you and protect you when it comes to employee rights and Halloween work safety. Halloween should be a fun time for all, but it can quickly get out of hand, and your workplace rights can be violated.
The scenarios above cover several instances of what could happen that may amount to sexual harassment or discrimination in the workplace. Either of these could also lead to workplace retaliation for those who attempt to report the actions to human resources or other company officials. Our employment lawyers place a focus on Halloween work safety and are here for you when it comes to violations of your rights during Halloween.
If you have been the subject of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation in the workplace, we would like to speak with you. We fight hard for worker’s rights across all types of employment law, including racial, age, religious, pregnancy, sex and gender, and disability discrimination as well as retaliation or harassment.
Contact Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A., to set up a free, confidential consultation. We are experienced, expert employment lawyers that work hard each day to hold those accountable for egregious behavior.
With offices across Florida in Tampa, Orlando, Miami, Sarasota, St. Petersburg, and Jacksonville, we have helped thousands of workers just like you hold people accountable for their unlawful behavior and get the justice they deserve.
Please Note: At the time this article was written, the information contained within it was current based on the prevailing law at the time. Laws and precedents are subject to change, so this information may not be up to date. Always speak with a law firm regarding any legal situation to get the most current information available.