Love them or hate them, this time of year the office holiday party is unavoidable for many of us. Office parties are a great place to network and become better acquainted with your colleagues in a relaxed atmosphere.
You have the opportunity to boost your career by interacting with company movers and shakers, but you might instead ruin your office reputation by doing something really stupid. Activities that might seem insignificant during a night out with friends has the potential to make you the office joke, or even get you fired, during a workplace gathering.
The HR firm Adecco.com verifies what we all know: inappropriate behavior at office parties is a given. In Adecco’s survey, about 40 percent of workers admitted that they or someone they know has engaged in embarrassing behavior at holiday office parties. Twenty-three percent have been officially reprimanded for inappropriate behavior. And 11 percent of respondents were fired for inappropriate behavior after an office party or know someone who was.
At Will Employment
Most Americans not represented by unions are employed “at will.” This means that in effect, you can be fired for pretty much any cause, short of unlawful discrimination. While there are exceptions, and employment law varies by state, doing something stupid at your office party really can get you fired. What are some of the best ways to lose your job after a workplace party? Read on.
1. Get stinking drunk
This one’s a given. If you can avoid alcohol at an office party altogether, that might be your best bet. If you must drink, know your limits; stick to one drink and hang on to it all night. This is not the time to get inappropriately flirty, talk too much (particular about other co-workers or the boss), or be uninhibited. Save it for New Year’s Eve.
In addition, if you get drunk at a workplace party, your boss could be liable if you injure someone else. In some states, a host who serves alcohol to a clearly drunk guest may be held legally responsible if that person is later involved in a drunk driving incident or serious car crash. Getting your company sued is probably not conducive to continued employment.
2. Talk too much
For some people this goes hand-in-hand with drunkenness, but others just need a more relaxed environment to loosen their tongues. The office party is a chance to get to know your co-workers better, but keep it light; hobbies, travel, holiday plans. This isn’t the place for strong political or religious opinions, arguments, gossip, or unflattering observations about colleagues. (In other words, don’t be this girl.)
3. Sneak off into dark corners
According to a one survey, 29 percent of adults have, while at an office holiday party, experienced or observed sexual advances between people who work together. There are several pitfalls involved in hooking up at the office party. Remember there are no secrets these days, and someone will likely snap a cell-phone pic of you getting it on with the office stud and post it on Facebook before you even remember it happened. In addition, if you make unwanted advances to a colleague, you may let yourself in for a sexual harassment suit; there are plenty of witnesses, after all. It’s more than just embarrassing; it’s potentially damaging to you and your employer.
4. Let it all hang out
Jessica Webber, a hotel employee in Eugene, Oregon, has filed a lawsuit against her employer alleging that the company party became a “sex party.” Courthouse News Service reports that Frederick’s husband stripped down to thong underwear in the restaurant and performed lap dances to employees and guests. And then things got REALLY weird. Webber claims the behavior forced her to quit, and is alleging the party involved civil rights violations, sexual harassment, and a hostile workplace.