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Sex and Religion at the Holidays

Most Important, Manage the Alcohol Consumption

Manage the Alcohol Consumption:

  •     Use a commercial establishment rather than someone’s home.
  •     Two drink limit. If employee purchases additional must be on personal credit card.
  •     Provide free transportation home from the party.
  •     Have the celebration mid-day.
  •     Avoid salty or greasy foods – they contribute to increased drinking.
  •     Serve foods high in starch & protein – they slow absorption.
  •     Cut off all alcohol at some point.
  •     Serve beer & wine only.
  •     Choose venue carefully – hotel rooms nearby can be a problem!

Invite the spouses, significant others, domestic partners.

  •     People are much more apt to behave if the significant other is in attendance.
  •     Review the language in the invitation to make sure that there is no exclusion of non-married or non-heterosexual significant others.
  •     No slow dancing (especially if significant others are excluded).
  •     No mistletoe.

Set tone of moderation in invitations, e-mails and memos.

Remind supervisors that they are considered to be a role-model for appropriate behavior.

Secret Santa or Gift Exchange:

  •     As well as establishing a financial limit, set rules about the nature of the gift.
  •     Non-sexual.
  •     Non-personal (e.g. lingerie)

Fireproof Decorations

Most Common Cases of Religious Harassment Claims:

  •     Quid Pro Quo – pressure from supervisor or organization to participate in religious events
  •     Jokes, especially e-mail
  •     Overzealous conversion efforts
  •     Failure to accommodate requests for time off to attend religious services or time off for religious holidays.

What can HR do to increase the awareness of diverse religious practices?

  •     Calendars – most every major religion has dates of observance, prayer and celebration around December.
  •     Brown bag lunch speakers – optional attendance
  •     Decorations that show diversity & even-handedness
  •     Avoid decorations that are entirely religious
  •     Memos and reminders to supervisors that this is a time of many holidays, and that the term “Christmas” is to be avoided