It’s the time of year when many organizations host their annual holiday parties. Such events can actually end up being a great team-building event where people get a chance to be themselves outside of the workplace environment. On the other hand, they can also have potentially disastrous outcomes if someone has a bit too much to drink during the festivities.
HR Expert, Johnny C. Taylor, CEO of SHRM, wrote to a reader in a column which appeared on the USA Today website. The reader had gone to the company’s annual staff holiday party, where one of her coworkers who had a bit too much to drink made “inappropriate comments regarding the fit of her dress.” The woman, Ashley, had been especially embarrassed because it was in front of several of her coworkers. In her letter, Ashley asked Taylor whether or not she should move forward and report the incident to HR.
According to Taylor, because the incident was a company event, Ashley had every right to bring the matter to the attention of her company’s HR representatives but advised that having a direct conversation with the offender might be a better option to start off with. It would not be unreasonable to expect an apology and a commitment from the individual that such an incident would never happen again.
If Taylor advised, she has a conversation with the person and doesn’t believe that the individual took the situation seriously enough or was unsatisfied with an apology, she should take it to her supervisor, especially if her organization has an anti-harassment policy.
If others involved were present, supervisors and HR might also want to get their account of what was said in the incident. When faced with a similar situation, it is crucial for anyone who files such a complaint to document everything. By not reporting inappropriate actions and commentary, Taylor said, only serves to reinforce and even encourage bad behavior by others in the future.