What is it about the holiday party that makes otherwise decent, hard-working people lose their mind?
Alcohol is certainly the main reason, in my view. Open bars are invitations to lots of craziness. (Just ask Katy Perry.) Since it is unlikely (and unrealistic) that all companies will move to “dry” parties (though some have moved to just beer & wine), employers will continue to have deal with employees behaving badly.
Over the years, this blog has received comments from people who question whether their employer can REALLY fire them over doing silly things at an off-site, after-hours company party. My favorite is from the employee who was caught not wearing any underwear and was fired.
And employers have asked the same thing (though, admittedly, not about the underwear).
With very few exceptions, the answer is “yes”; employers can fire employees for poor behavior at a holiday party. It’s a company event and a certain level of decorum is expected. Indeed, employers who fail to curb and regulate such behavior open themselves up to a sexual harassment lawsuit. (I covered this extensively in a post last holiday season.)
So, what are some tips for employers to follow? Well, several other blogs have already touched on the subject this month and they’re worth a read.
- Jon Hyman at Ohio Employer’s Law Blog advocates holding the party midweek and make sure you serve a lot of food as well.
- The Labor Letter suggests including spouses and significant others at the party to help tame the crowd.
- The Proactive Employer suggests avoiding casinos, bars, and nightclubs for the locale; restaurants and hotel banquet facilities are her preferred locations.
- And if you need even more ideas, Eric Meyer’s blog recaps 70 other suggestions as well.
And what else should you avoid? A suggestion from last year still applies: No Elaine Dancing.