What You Should Know About Holiday Parties and Sexual Harassment
It's that time of year again; the holidays are upon us in all of their festive glory including being invited to countless parties
It seems everyone wants some of your attention and invitations to holiday events come from all directions. One particular party you do not want to miss is your employer's party. Given how close the big day is you have probably already attended your company Holiday Party.
Most of these sorts of events include some alcohol. Perhaps we should be calling it the yearly harassment party. While I'm sure it wasn't your employer's intent, free alcohol and a jovial atmosphere sometimes mix to create less than festive environments for victims of sexual harassment. Read on to learn what you need to know about this unfortunate and intrusive form of discrimination.
What Is Sexual Harassment?
There are two basic forms of sexual harassment. There is “quid pro quo” which translates into English from Latin as “this for that.” Some other common expressions with equivalent meaning including “tit for tat” or “you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours.” If you've been the victim of sexual discrimination then perhaps you've heard that last one. The other common form which is a bit less overt is a “hostile work environment” caused by, or the result of sexual advances.
To put it plainly, this kind of offense happens anytime a co-worker, supervisor, manager, or even non-employee engages in unwanted sexual advances even after you tell them that they are not welcome. It has various forms, including being chased around the table at the company party by the drunken accountant who just can't take no for an answer.
A hostile work environment generally ensues after you make it clear that the advances are not welcome. This can be as subtle as giving you too much work and not enough time to finish it, to reduced hours, to any other unpleasant and basically threatening behavior that makes it difficult for you to complete the duties of your work.
What To Do If Something Happens At The Holiday Party
It's no secret that relationships sometimes begin in the workplace. In fact, there are some statistics to back this up. It is said that one in three relationships among adults aged 18 to 35 will have started in the workplace. With this in mind, no one should have to tolerate an unpleasant work environment because of unwelcome attention not related to job performance.
It can be a difficult situation if something happens at a work-sponsored party. Generally the mixture of alcohol and unstructured time can lead some to engage in behavior they would never consider in a million years while at the workplace. It may also affect their judgement.
Generally if you are the victim of unwelcome advances you would go to your human resources department and file a complaint. This would make it clear to the offending party that they must stop the behavior or face further consequences. Sometimes it could be severe enough that they lose their job. If they don't stop then further action must be taken by the employer.
Consulting with an attorney is advisable if the issue does not get resolved right away. A lawyer specializing in the rules governing the workplace is your best bet and will ensure that the inappropriate behavior towards you comes to an end.