It’s beginning to look a lot like…..bad decisions

After three years, office holiday parties are back! In general, the office holiday party season is (NOT) the most wonderful time of the year for employment lawyers. A few years ago I wrote a cautionary blog about the ways in which office holiday parties can go awry.  In it, I included some real-life examples of legal claims stemming from these gatherings.

This week has been full of holiday party news, some of it funny and all of it a reminder that what happens at the office holiday party does not stay at the party.  It follows you to work on Monday.  Below are some of our favorite stories from the week.

—In Traverse City, Michigan, an employee dressed as the Grinch was arrested after punching a co-worker who was dressed as a reindeer.  Not surprisingly there was alcohol involved.  Hat Tip to our Managing Paralegal, Becca Nesslar, for uncovering this story.  Every call we have ever received regarding an “incident” at a holiday party started with way too much drinking.  Moderation is key!

—Speaking of drinking too much, beer-loving Supreme Court Justice, Brett Kavanaugh, made headlines this week after he attended a holiday party hosted by the head of the Conservative Political Action Committee.  Fellow attendees included some questionable suspects like controversial right-wing activist Rep. Matt Gaetz (who was previously under investigation for sex-trafficking), and Sebastian Gorka, who has been accused of having Nazi related connections.  Not surprisingly, people are questioning Justice Kavanaugh’s impartiality (and probably his common sense as well). Remember: who you choose to mix with at office holiday party is as important as what you do or don’t do when you are there.

—Our colleague on the other side of the bar, Jenny Goltz, blogged about best practices for employers in which she (I suspect correctly) predicts that “some of us may be a little rusty at interacting live with actual humans after years of Zoom happy hours.  Adding alcohol to the mix could be a potential recipe for disaster.”  While we plaintiffs lawyers get nervous this time of year, our angst is nothing compared to that of our colleagues who represent employers.  All that hard work writing policies and conducting harassment training only to see it fly out the window with the CEO kissing an administrative assistant under the mistletoe.

—Finally, the Business Insider gave us all a gift this week by compiling the 24 funniest office holiday stories.  There are some real treats in here including a tale of an employee who accidentally brought pot brownies to the holiday pot-luck.

See you next week for another wrap up of workplace news which no doubt will include more office holiday stories!