Steven Mitchell Sack, the "employee's lawyer" based in New York, says that companies often fail to realize that the holiday parties they throw for their employees often "come back to bite them." He makes a lot of points based on 33 years of experience and tries to minimize exposure for companies.
Sack recommends that if a company is going to throw a party that they need to remind all of their employees, especially supervisors and managers, that there is zero tolerance for sexual harassment and those guidelines should be clearly defined. He adds that companies need to remind their employees that anyone who commits sexual harassment before, during or after a holiday party will be subject to strict penalties, including possible immediate dismissal.
Sack advises companies to not host parties on company property and to do so after hours, to avoid any wage issues. He also recommends not serving alcohol but if they do, the company should consider hiring experienced bartenders instead of company volunteers, as bartenders know when people have had too much to drink.
Employees should also avoid taking pictures and sharing them on social media, Sack says, as those pictures have legal ramifications. It is not good for the company's image and employees should especially not take pictures of co-workers in compromising positions.
Sack reminds employees to not look at confidential material during the party but says that sexual harassment is the biggest concern at holiday parties. "If people don't drink, the chances of these things happening are much less."
Steven Mitchell Sack is the author of "The Employee Rights Handbook." More information can be found at www.stevensack.com. He spoke with the Legal Broadcast Network, providing online, on-demand, legal video content.