NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — ‘Tis the season for office parties, and while yours may be filled with good cheer, others are plagued by drunken and sometimes career-ending moments.

As CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported, companies are getting legal advice to avoid holiday party problems.

Indeed, what happens at the office holiday party no longer stays at the office holiday party thanks to smartphones and social media.

“These things live a lot longer than the end of the party,” said attorney Mike Schmidt. Schmidt is a labor and employment lawyer with the firm Cozen O’Connor.

Schmidt said more legal claims are now resulting from inappropriate behavior at workplace parties.

Workers are not surprised.

“Sometimes they can cross the line,” Francine Morin said.

“I’ve certainly witnessed it, yes,” Brett Caspi added.

With the warmer than usual weather, some people are choosing clothes that are too revealing. Others, who drink too much at open bars, may not keep their hands to themselves.

This season some may talk inappropriately about presidential politics and controversial topics in ways that offend, result in discrimination claims, and even get people fired.

“The more you are talking about a hot button emotional issue in a workplace setting, which is what a holiday office party is, still is the more you are risking somebody being offended or someone raising a complaint,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt said that all employers must make it very clear to their employees that workplace protocols do not go out the window at holiday gatherings.

“That we have expectations of the company as so what’s appropriate and what’s not appropriate and that hasn’t changed just because we are at a holiday party,” Schmidt said.

“You’re still being judged. You have to be careful,” Morin said.

The message is — even when you’re all dressed up and having fun, you’re still at work.


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