Holiday Office Parties Gone Wrong

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By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. on November 20, 2015 11:00 AM

The time hasn't yet arrived for digging into our Turkeys, but we thought it would be a good time to remind firms that there is a definite wrong way to conduct Holiday Office parties.

Here's a list of things to avoid based on past holiday office parties that went wrong.

1. Santa's Jock Strap

One employee recounts a particular party held by the New York advertising agency Rumhill-Hoyt during which the Santa suddenly threw off his suit, revealing a "dirty jock strap" and a body festooned with stickers. The Santa proceeded to bump and grind to tunes coming out of tiny tape recorder at his feet. It left everyone aghast.

In actuality, a low-level employer arranged the party and threw in an extra $50 for a dancing, stripping Santa. If the Santa had even touched any of the guests, there could have been a slew of battery lawsuits coming his way -- much more dough than the $50 it cost to hire the guy.

2. Cubicle Copulation

Back in 2009, a couple decided to get busy in a cubicle at the firm Atmosphere BBDO while it was filmed by another co-worker. Interestingly enough, the two people who were having sex were allowed to keep their jobs while the guy who filmed it was let go. That's interesting.

This sort of behavior can really be a legal minefield of sexual harassment lawsuits. If the hatchet doesn't fall on employees who engage in sex during company time, it will seem like the company is almost condoning that behavior. And that will only stimulate lawsuits. A strong culture of non-acceptance will also satisfy many industry standards of reasonableness.

3. Booze and Minors

In all seriousness, booze makes things that much more difficult due to the obvious criminal implication. Bosses and firms will definitely be on the hook if anyone below 18 is caught drinking. At one unfortunate holiday office party, an employer was found negligent in a wrongful death action when a young girl died of alcohol poisoning. Scan your doorways at all times for children who just shouldn't be there.

It's a little difficult to admit, but fun environments are basically breeding grounds for all sorts of legal issues. This doesn't mean all fun has to come to a stop, though. Practice due diligence. The first step is to hire the type of employees who won't make trouble under the mistletoe.