It’s a day of fright and fantasy; but don’t let costumes, parties, and decorations be more trick than treat for your employees and organization.
Halloween can be fun. It also can be scary, but less for the ghostly costumes and more for the legal risks. Know the dos and don’ts of celebrating Halloween to protect your employees and your company. Read on about risks you should manage now to prevent legal nightmares later.
- Make dress-up discretionary. Employees may opt out of Halloween parties and costumes based on claims that it violates their religious beliefs. Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mennonites, and others may legally refuse to participate in Halloween festivities. Make these activities optional, and instruct managers and employees not to discriminate against, judge, or mock employees who refuse to dress up or attend Halloween parties.
- Consider costume codes to avoid discrimination or harassment claims. Establish and promote written guidelines about what types of Halloween costumes are and aren’t acceptable for the workplace. On the unacceptable list are sexually provocative outfits, costumes that could be construed as mocking a culture or religion. or outfits that make a political or social statement. It may help to have a theme for costumes—such as superheroes, animals, or outer space.
- Put safety first. Remind employees not to wear costumes that limit their mobility or put them (or others) at risk of tripping or falling. No masks should be worn that impair vision or hearing.
- Remember the residents. Staff should be advised to avoid costumes or masks that could frighten or upset residents, especially those with dementia or cognitive impairment.
- Avoid dangerous decorations. Make sure that decorations don’t violate fire or safety codes and/or impede residents’ mobility. Avoid visuals such as flashing or strobe lights that could contribute to falls. Stay away from spooky or loud sounds that could frighten residents.
Be creative about ways to ensure Halloween fun for workers who want to celebrate. Events such as therapy pets wearing costumes, a pumpkin painting event, or a cupcake decorating contest can be fun and safe for everyone. If you communicate rules and expectations in advance, you can avoid problems later.