At This Year’s Holiday Party Keep Your Hands to Yourself


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Of all the commentaries about the fast-breaking allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace, few people have discussed how this will affect future workplace behavior.

If the outcry continues to be intense, the future workplace for men and women working together will be very different.

So, as many companies start their annual holiday party celebration cycle, here are some caveats to keep in mind if you don’t want to violate the new boundaries of behaviors that can be considered sexually inappropriate and get you into significant trouble at work.

1. At the holiday party, keep your hands to yourself. Even better, keep your hands in your pockets, especially if you find yourself next to someone you don’t like at the holiday party. This person can be a male or female. Also, do not put your hand around anyone for that holiday photo unless your hands are folded in front of you and readily visible to the camera. Try to smile.

2. If you feel that you have been harassed or assaulted, don’t complain to the HR Department. If we have seen anything from the nationwide sexual harassment stories, it’s that corporate HR departments don’t do anything. If they did, serial offenders like Bill 0’Reilly and Matt Lauer would not have been able to get away with it for years.  Anyone who has worked in corporate America knows HR departments exist for only a few reasons: to prevent the corporation from being sued for the most egregious events, such as committing suicide in the office, and to protect the executives’ bonuses and salaries. Aside from that, working in the corporate HR department is like early retirement, except you are still getting paid. All you have to do is be able to keep a secret, be loyal to management, and be adept at cover-ups.

3. Do not tell dirty jokes at the party or the office. Those jokes don’t cut it anymore unless you ask them to people you have known since elementary school or co-workers who have spent at least a decade in prison.

4. Watch out for declines in workplace productivity. One of the least discussed by-products of sexual harassment claims is how they will impact workplace productivity. There will definitely be an impact as workers learn new behaviors. It won’t be fast or easy, and in the interim, it will create awkward situations, especially when work is being done in travel situations away from the office.

5. Remember that sex in the workplace is as old as sex itself. Despite the new emphasis on sexual

Sex in the workplace is not new

harassment training, which will be a vast cottage industry at many corporations; these workshops are usually informative and an excuse for workers to leave the office for the day. Sexual awareness and trying to discern if the other party is interested in you is the basis for procreation. It is essentially human. The species does not exist without it. In its modern extreme, watch the 1960 movie, “The Apartment” (co-written, produced, and directed by Billy Wilder), in which executives lean on a lower-level manager to use his apartment for their sexcapades with other office co-workers. In the film, the use of his apartment for sex outside the office is an open secret. As an insight into social mores at the time (and maybe today?), the manager whose apartment is being used (Jack Lemmon) is rewarded with promotion promises if he allows the boss to use it discretely.

6. Remember that sexual harassment is a power play in terms of money and executive status inside the company. As long as wages are not rising fast enough and promotions are rare, people will be forced to do things for their economic benefit that are not based on merit promotions and jog capabilities. I have known real estate agents that slept with homeowners to get the house listing. The same is true outside of the real estate industry, which applies to billion-dollar corporations and small businesses. The amount of money someone is being paid is relative to a person and where they live. More sexual harassment complaints should come from outside of the large billion-dollar corporations and trickle down to small-town America if the complainant can find another job.

7. Bring back slapping. In the old days, when a woman was offended by a man, they slapped him. This scene has appeared in hundreds of movies, some starring John Wayne, Cary Grant, Henry Fonda, and Hollywood’s most prominent leading male names.  In the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, this was a typical female response to men who offended their boundaries. Today, this would be considered assault and battery, but after the recent revelations, a few brave judges may side with the woman if she has a good case, complete with witnesses. But it would be a bold move for a woman to make if she is defending herself.

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Chuck Epstein has managed marketing communications and public relations departments for major global financial institutions and participated in the launch of industry-changing financial products. He also has written by-lined articles for over 50 publications, five books and served as editor and publisher of nation’s first newsletter on the topic of using the PC for personal investing and trading. (“Investing Online, 1994-1999). He also is a marketing consultant, writer and speaker on topics related to investor protection and opportunities in the very dynamic cannabis industry. He has held senior-level marketing, PR and communications positions at the New York Futures Exchange, Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Lind-Waldock, Zacks Investment Research, Russell Investments and Principal Financial. He has won national awards from the Mutual Fund Education Alliance (MFEA) and his web site,, was named best small blog in 2009 by the Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW).


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