Sometimes, holiday parties are held by employers as a way to thank employees and as a way to keep employees motivated to do their work while on the job. Even though the party is considered a fun event with laughter, food, and other activities, it’s still an event that is considered a part of the workplace. This means that the same regulations set forth by the workplace are in effect during the party, including sexual harassment regulations. At times, employers might think that they can easily give employees a few gifts that are of a sexually suggestive nature. If you are on the receiving end of one of these gifts, know that you can seek help from an attorney who can assist in filing the proper charges against the employer.
If you receive a gift at a holiday party that is sexually explicit in nature, it could qualify as an act of sexual harassment. Keep in mind the details of the gift will be taken into consideration when the decision is made as to whether the gift truly is harassing in a sexual manner. Candy boxes that are wrapped in red paper and that have a red bow on them might seem a bit abnormal and could have a romantic undertone, but this type of gift usually isn’t considered a form of harassment in the sexual nature. If you were to open the gift and discover that there are sex toys, edible underwear, or similar items inside, then this could be considered a sexual harassment incident that you would be able to discuss with your attorney and possibly make a claim for damages in court.
There are laws established by the federal government as well as state and local governments that dictate what sexual harassment is in a place of employment and what can be done if you feel that you have been violated in any way. Events that take place involving employees that they conduct on their own usually don’t have to abide by these regulations. However, if an employer hosts a holiday party or a similar event, even if it’s not at the business itself, the same standards need to be met pertaining to sexual harassment.
One federal law that is in place that prohibits these activities from taking place is Title VII. This is a law that is applicable to those who work for the state or those who work for the federal government. Employers who have at least 15 employees must abide by the regulations that are contained in this law as well. One component of the law is that minor incidents usually don’t constitute sexual harassment, such as teasing. However, if you were to receive a gift at a holiday party that clearly has a sexual insinuation behind it and that makes you feel sexually uncomfortable as an employee, then this would be considered harassment. The gift would also need to be suggestive in a way that it could change the employee’s conditions at work at the end of the party.
If the gift suggests a possible action that could take place at work after the gift is received or if the gift is one that creates a work environment that is uncomfortable and even hostile, then it would be considered harassment. An example of such a gift would be a sex toy.
Fortunately, there are laws in place that protect employees whether they work in a small business or one where there are hundreds of workers. Sometimes, your employer might give gifts to everyone or to multiple people at a time that are considered sexual in nature without having a clear person in mind who is supposed to be the recipient. If this happens, then you can still file a claim with an attorney.