As an employer, you likely work with a diverse bunch of people – in all senses of the word. Unfortunately, some may be less socially aware than others. Or maybe they are aware, but they just don’t care.
While you might maintain a happy workplace free from discrimination for most of the year, Halloween parties can lead some people to slip up or throw caution to the wind. They might dress up in ways that are unacceptable to others and prompt an upset employee to file a discrimination claim against you.
Set your expectations out early
The law expects you to be proactive when it comes to stopping discrimination. For example, you need to have anti-discrimination policies and make them clear to your employees. You need to have a system for reporting issues and ensure your workers understand and feel comfortable using it.
If you are putting on a Halloween party, it pays to set some ground rules about what is and is not appropriate attire. Here are some tips:
- Don’t use makeup to change your skin color to that of another race: Painting your face green to be some kind of alien is acceptable. Making it black, brown or yellow to be someone from another race is not.
- Another culture’s clothes are not a costume: Just because it’s available in an online fancy dress shop does not mean you can wear it. If you’re not an indigenous chief, then ditch the feather headdress.
It could still happen that an employee ignores your guidelines and causes a colleague to bring a lawsuit. Getting help to detail the steps you took to prevent such incidents will strengthen your defense.