I have always been fascinated when the shy people that I know suddenly become exhibitionists when it comes to donning Halloween costumes. Whether it is a sexy French maid costume from Victoria’s Secret or Captain Underpants® (from the Dreamworks movie), adult costumes have become much edgier. Those costumes are perfectly fine at a private party or a club.  But when those same people decide to wear these costumes to work, you better have your employment lawyer on speed dial.

If your workplace permits employees to wear costumes on Halloween or you host a Halloween party at your office, you can prevent many employee relations problems and possible lawsuits by reminding employees to use good taste and discretion when choosing costumes. Here are some additional tips to avoid being spooked on October 31st:

  1. Consider preparing a memo to employees with specific costume guidelines in advance of the party. Remind employees that even though it is a Halloween party, they are still at work and therefore, must comply with the Code of Conduct and Anti-Harassment/Anti-Discrimination Policy.
  2. While it is difficult to anticipate every possible costume that is in poor taste, remind employees that they should avoid wearing costumes which make fun of another culture or are overly sexy. I realize that I sound like a prude, but do you really want a sexual harassment claim from a silly Halloween party? Other types of costume themes to avoid at work: anything related to a hate group or Nazi-themed costume, a religious figure, a terrorist organization, or anything that resembles the sexual anatomy of either sex.
  3. Depending on the type of business, remind employees that safety comes first. For example, an employee working in a manufacturing facility should not be wearing a loose-fitting costume or a tail that might get caught in a conveyer belt.
  4. Some employees do not celebrate Halloween for religious reasons (e.g., Jehovah’s Witnesses). Therefore, participation in Halloween festivities should not be mandatory.
  5. Remind supervisors that they must lead by example when choosing their costume and act professionally during the party.
  6. Please check our previous blogs for some additional tips here and here.

Halloween parties don’t have to be tricky at work. If planned appropriately, they can be a real treat.

So, I bet you’re wondering, what costume does an employment lawyer wear for Halloween . . . Supergirl of course! Happy Halloween!