Before you say “Bah Humbug” toward all the things that might not have been ideal about this time of year, or start to channel Ebenezer Scrooge, remember that the holidays are supposed to be fun; not perfect. However, for you employers out there, beware of the following during December.
Unless you are a bona fide religious organization, you need to call them the “holidays” and do not permit anyone to proselytize. Title VII of the federal 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Arizona Civil Rights Act prohibit discrimination on the basis of religion if your business has 15 or more employees.
The Holiday Party
If you don’t make it voluntary to come, you may have to pay non-exempt employees under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act to attend. If you serve alcohol, think about doing it with a professional bartender and limit consumption. You need to have and enforce a Drug and Alcohol policy. Remember that Arizona has tough DUI laws. You do not want dram shop liability so consider making paid taxi rides home available. You do NOT want any sexual harassment claims. Remember that ALL Arizona employers are covered by the prohibition on sexual harassment by the Arizona Civil Rights Act. Remember that alcohol consumption can loosen inhibitions. For example, you do NOT want one of your managers loudly declaring his undying love for the receptionist in front of the rest of the staff. You also need to have and enforce social media policies. You do NOT want Facebook postings of “pickled employees” at the Holiday Party.
Paid Time Off
Many employers give paid holidays on and around Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Some employers shut down their production lines during this time of year. Many employees choose to take vacation during this time of year. However, if you have financial statements or other items due on December 31, you may need to limit paid time off in December.
Have a great holiday season and talk to you in January.
Gentle Reminder: This is general information; not legal advice.