Nightmare at the Office

 Another update from the Jungle…

unnamed-196Once upon a time, an inexperienced HR Manager named Katie suggested to the company owner Phil that they have a Halloween party. Phil remembered past office parties and hesitated to risk the company’s liability insurance premiums on another such event. It’ll boost morale, assured Katie, and so, Phil said yes.

Katie immediately sent an email to all employees about the festive event. Five minutes later, Misty pops into Katie’s office to ask if she and her fellow white witches can set up a cauldron in the parking lot for a cleansing ceremony. They want to appease the spirits of the universe and ensure a profitable year for the company. Katie gapes at her; she didn’t even know there were white witches on the staff.

unnamed-197Katie says she’ll think about it and shoos Misty away. Katie slumps at her desk wondering whether the EEOC considers white witches a protected religious group. While she’s cogitating on religious freedom in the workplace, Wade shows up. He says office parties are stupid and he won’t participate. If the company wants to boost his morale, he’d prefer cash.

Having spread his brand of cheer, he wanders away to urge other to boycott Katie’s “dumb party.”

Katie is discouraged until she talks to Alan and Ray. They want to know if there is a prize for best costume. Katie thinks that’s a swell idea and says yes. Chortling wildly, Alan and Ray thank her. Too late, Katie remembers that chaos follows them and wishes she had said no. And so begins the scariest night of Katie’s life.

unnamed-19Ray shows up at the party dressed as an Aztec sacrificial victim with a fake heart poking out of his chest, dripping fake blood. Ray doesn’t understand why Moises, a Mexican-American, thinks the costume is culturally insensitive. Katie dashes toward them intent on preventing a fight but rocks to a halt when she catches sight of Alan. Alan had arrived wrapped in a blanket, wearing an Indian war bonnet with psychedelic pink feathers.

Suddenly, he drops the blanket to reveal he’s wearing only a leather thong.

unnamed-200Before Katie can indulge in hysterics, she discovers that AJ, the scary guy from IT, has a fetish for knives and marijuana-laced brownies. Since marijuana is now legal in some states, “What’s the big deal?” says AJ, snatching the tray from Katie before she can dispose of the brownies.

As Katie drives home, she vows never again to suggest boosting morale with a party.

As your workplace celebrates Halloween, be assured that nothing like this could ever happen at your company. Happy Halloween!

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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Halloween is a Scream

Another update from the Jungle….
image039Nicole is the HR manager for her company and she’s had a tough time for the past few years. Her company avoided layoffs but they haven’t given pay raises in years. Nicole tries to find other ways to boost employee morale.

This month’s morale booster is a Halloween party on the Friday closest to October 31st. Nicole emails employees encouraging them to come in their favorite costumes and compete for prizes. Poor Nicole! Even after years of experience in the HR world, she’s still a bit naïve.

Her email has barely hit the company’s intranet when Steve slouches in to her office to complain that he won’t attend the party if he has to wear a costume. He also demands that suitable adult beverages be served at the party. Nicole isn’t that naïve. She vetoes alcohol.

Then Ruth walks into her office to say that her church forbids Halloween parties because they encourage worship of the devil. She threatens to sue for religious discrimination if she’s forced to attend the party. Ruth also says that competing for prizes is gambling which is prohibited by her faith, state law, and the employee handbook.

After a quick review of company policy, Nicole concludes that prizes of nominal value won’t result in her arrest, so she forges
image042 ahead with her party plans. Friday arrives and Nicole decorates the break room with the help an elf, a 1930’s railroad hobo, and a clown. Then she rewards herself with a glass of (non-alcoholic) punch as she watches the employees file in for the party.

Suddenly, her glass of punch slips from her hand and she stifles a scream as she watches Tina sashay into the break room. Tina is wearing three-inch stiletto heels and a scanty outfit modeled on Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.

What should Nicole do next?

  1. She can ask Steve to find the nearest liquor store and buy her a restorative drink to help her recover from the shock of seeing Tina.
  2. She can award Tina the prize for most innovative costume.
  3. She can escort Tina from the break room before the president sees his CIO decked out like a (high end) call girl.

Has your company ever held a holiday party that went awry? Stay tuned for more adventures as Nicole navigates through the holiday season this year.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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