Sexual Harassment at an Office Holiday Party

Holiday office parties are back but many have forgotten the operative word is “office” not “party”.  I’m Amy E. Feldman.

In the light of day, you may have come on a little stronger than you should have at the company’s holiday party.  Can you get sued for sexual harassment?  Well, a person generally can’t win a sexual harassment lawsuit on the basis of a single instance of a coworker’s—or even a boss’s—poor judgment unless it was egregious (like forced, unwanted physical contact).  A simple one-time “you look hot” comment, though awkward, doesn’t really have the makings of a sexual harassment claim unless it was only one instance in a pattern of inappropriate behavior.

That said, even a single instance can violate your company’s code of conduct and you can get fired.  So, if you feel bad and think an apology is warranted (and unlikely to make the situation worse) then honestly say, I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.  And then hope that you will have the chance to attend the company’s 2023 holiday party.

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