Around this time of year, maybe even tonight, thousands of young people will attend their first actual office holiday party. Whether it’s a casual shindig by the water cooler or a black tie affair in a hotel ballroom, it’s important to remember that all workplace parties are a different environment from collegiate holiday ragers.
One would hope young people have common sense, but a few cocktails or merely a looser environment can result in some poor decision making. Luckily, there are a few tips that go beyond merely “do the right thing,” which is murky territory.
Holiday Parties are “Ground-Zero” for Sexual Harrassment
Professor Merrick “Rick” Rossein, former Acting Dean of the City University of New York’s School of Law and experienced litigator, says office holiday parties are ground-zero for many sexual harassment cases. “I can’t tell you how many cases I’ve seen that start at holiday parties,” he tells Inverse.
In the realm of sexual harassment law, Rossein is a leading voice. Besides teaching it for a living, Rossein serves as a consultant to firms both in the United States and abroad. In 1992, he joined then-New York Governor Mario Cuomo’s task force, following the Anita Hill hearings. In 1994, the city of San Francisco made several of his proposals law. At the time of our interview, Rossein was working as an independent investigator into the recent allegations against New York State Assembly members.
“I’ve been at this for too many decades,” he says.
In the wake of the allegations against powerful men such as Harvey Weinstein — Rossein says he hopes the #MeToo moment is a “tipping point” — it’s crucial for young people to learn now what their actions mean. The holidays are a joyous time, but the fun can end if no one is careful. In a conversation with Inverse, here are seven things Rossein says all young professionals must remember about their behavior when they’re toasting with the CEO this season.