This is not an appropriate Halloween costume for an office party.

Denver, CO– Halloween is one of America’s favorite secular holidays and widely celebrated in schools and workplaces. Billions are spent each year on Halloween costumes, decorations and candy, ranking second to Christmas in amount of revenue generated. This spooky holiday is not just for children anymore as employers see it as an opportunity to for team building, stress reduction and the opportunity to have some fun and be creative.

It’s hard to think that harassment charges could arise out of a workplace holiday party but it has happened before.

Office holiday parties whether it is for Halloween or Christmas, often involve alcohol, and where there is alcohol there are less inhibitions. Some employees may feel embolden to say inappropriate things to a coworker, believing that since it is party, the same rules of the workplace don’t apply. That couldn’t be farther from the truth, regardless of whether the Halloween party takes place during officer hours of after, an employer is still liable if sexual harassment occurs.

A Denver employer should limit the intake of alcohol at their work party or chose to have a sober party. It may not seem like as much fun, but it’s no

Another thing a Denver employer should think about the Halloween costumes their employees might be tempted to wear. What is an appropriate costume for a party or nightclub is not necessarily appropriate for an office party. Costumes that are sexually provocative, political in nature, or make a social statement could be seen as offensive by employees and customers, so it’s best to suggest more benign costume choices.

Even though it is just a costume it can still create a harassment nightmare. If one employee picks on another for their costume choice that can be perceived as harassment and become a liability for a company.  The problem can be exacerbated if a member of management joins in on the teasing.

If a company is planning a Halloween party, it is advisable to set strict guidelines on what costumes are appropriate, and inform the employees of those guidelines well in advance. You may choose to have Halloween party without costumes; it may not be as amusing but will reduce the chances that any employees would be offended.

If you really want costumes at your Halloween party, then make certain you remind employees of what constitutes sexual harassment and what your company policies are. Make it clear to employees that they are still at work despite the holiday atmosphere.

Should an employee be offended by another’s costume don’t overreact, but remain sensitive to the issue. Be prepared to appropriately discipline an employee if they harass another.

Proper party planning will help avoid workplace misconduct, but as we all know, even your best efforts can’t completely eliminate harassment.

Any employee, who has been subjected to misconduct either at work or at a holiday party, can contact a Denver sexual harassment attorney to help end the behavior and obtain compensation for their emotional distress.