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Workplace behavior dos and don'ts explained in light of sexual harassment controversy

Labor and Employment Attorney, Ashley Pack explained to Eyewitness News that sexual harassment can happen anywhere, including holiday work parties, and just because you are not in the office, doesn't mean the same policies don't apply. (WCHS/WVAH)

Sexual harassment allegations have been front and center in the media recently, but the accusations aren't reserved for just public figures.

Labor and Employment Attorney, Ashley Pack explained to Eyewitness News that sexual harassment can happen anywhere, including holiday work parties, and just because you are not in the office, doesn't mean the same policies don't apply.

The Dinsmore & Shohl Attorney explained that the holiday party is a time to have fun.

“You should celebrate your accomplishments over the last year. You should get to know your other co-workers on a personal level. This is a time not to talk about work,” Pack said.

But, that doesn't mean you shouldn’t watch what you say and do.

"It's very important to conduct yourself exactly how you would in the office. Right now with the sexual harassment allegations that are out there in the media, I think it's very important for employers to review their policies with their employees, to talk to them about what their expectations are at holiday parties,” Pack said.

Pack said there are certain responsibilities the employer can take on that can make the party run smoothly for everyone.

"As an employer what I would suggest doing is limit how much alcohol is either served, so you can limit the amount of hour that the alcohol is served, say from 5:00-6:00, or from 5:00-7:00, or you could do drink tickets,” Pack said.

If you can hire a bartender, that way employees aren't serving other employees their drinks, and no one is able to over serve themselves. She said it's important to think ahead, and be prepared for the end of the night as well.

"I would absolutely recommend doing some sort of travel arrangements, so either setting up and Uber account, setting up taxis so that employees feel comfortable asking for alternative way to get home,” Pack said.

When Monday rolls around, Pack said you don't want others to question your actions or intentions, and those ideals are something to keep in mind not just during the holidays but year round.

"Your conduct that you would have in the office, extend that throughout the year so it wouldn't just be a holiday party, it would be any after-hours events. People are paying attention, and they're absolutely watching you, so it's a good thing to however you conduct yourself in the office, to continue that behavior year round,” Pack said.

Pack also says if a complaint is made related to the holiday party, it should still be investigated in the same way a complaint made from an in-office incident would be.

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