Some people in Florida may be hesitant to embrace office events like holiday parties, as they may increase the risk of sexual harassment and misconduct on the job. However, studies conducted at Penn State and Ohio State universities may indicate that there are ways that businesses can decrease the likelihood of inappropriate conduct. According to research, managers can set up holiday parties that are less likely to result in problematic incidents and sexual harassment complaints. When the parties are held during traditional work hours rather than late at night, attendance for workers is optional and they are allowed to bring guests of their choice, workers are less likely to experience sexual harassment.
Researchers surveyed two groups of employees, asking them about their experiences at employer-organized activities intended as celebrations for the workforce. Specifically, they were asked about team-building events, competitions, work celebrations, personal milestone events, holiday parties and company picnics. Researchers found that “fun” events were more likely to be the site of sexual harassment and unwanted advances than regular work activities. They also found that when attendance at these events was made mandatory, harassing behavior was more likely, specifically when the events took place off the clock.
In addition, when people were allowed to bring their friends and family to the events, harassment was also less likely. While the researchers expected to find that alcohol was a problem, given the number of stories about company parties related to drunk behavior, they found little correlation between the presence of alcohol at an event and the likelihood of sexual harassment.
Employees may attend events that are intended to be fun and relaxing, only to find themselves subjected to sexual harassment and potential retaliation. An employment law attorney may provide affected employees with South Florida sexual harassment legal assistance that can help address the issue and provide compensation to the affected worker.