Question: What are the risks in allowing employees to dress up for Halloween?
Answer: The two main risks that arise out of costumes in the workplace are the possibility of harassment and the potential lack of professionalism in dress. Costumes that are revealing or touch on controversial topics, such as religion or politics, can not only encourage inappropriate and unprofessional behavior, they can also encourage comments and behavior that could violate your company’s harassment policy. If you decide to allow employees to dress up, make sure you clarify that the costumes must still follow the basic guidelines of your regular dress code. For example, if an employee wore a revealing costume that would normally be in violation of the dress code, then that costume should not be permitted. Finally, make sure you address the harassment policy in your announcement and make it clear that costumes that make fun of any of the protected classes or costumes that could instigate inappropriate behavior or topics of conversation are not permitted.
p.s. – otherwise, have fun!
This Q & A was first published in the September 2011 NewsBrief.