Keeping Your Job After the Office Party

Introduction

Summer is nearly here, and with the advent of summer comes company-sponsored parties and picnics. Although these outings are usually designed with the purpose of raising employee morale and building a sense of community within a company, more than a few people have had their employment terminated and career path derailed because of “bad behavior” at a company gathering. Keeping your job after the office party is a major concern. Although an employee in a right-to-work state can technically be fired at any time and for any (non-discriminatory) reason, firings following company outings can usually be avoided.

Tips for Keeping Your Job

keeping your job after the office partyBefore heading out for the company picnic or barbeque, consider the following tips that can help you have fun while helping ensure you have a job to return to the next day:

  • Drink in moderation: Or do not drink at all, if you suspect you might not be able to control yourself once you start drinking. Becoming drunk at an office party is the surest way to ensure you will make bad decisions and say things you will later regret. If a spouse or trusted friend attends the gathering with you and you suspect you might become too inebriated, ask him or her to cut you off from further drinking and/or take you home if you become too disorderly. (If the gathering has a strict “no alcohol” policy, do not attempt to bring your own alcohol to the outing.)

  • Do not drink and drive: Closely related to the tip above, you should never drive home drunk. Being arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol is frowned upon by nearly every employer, and a DUI while driving home from the company picnic will certainly subject your employer to some bad publicity. Even if your employer does not fire you for your DUI arrest, losing your license to drive or having to have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle can make it much more difficult for you to get to work. If you plan on drinking at the company gathering, plan on having a designated driver (even if you do not plan on drinking much).

  • Watch the jokes: Company gatherings (especially ones that involve alcohol) have a tendency to put individuals at ease and encourage joking and fun. Just make sure that the “fun” you are having is not at the expense of another worker based on the worker’s sex, gender identification, race, ethnicity, national origin, or other protected classification. The target of the “joke” may overhear your conversation and feel harassed or threatened by the joke. Even if the target of the joke is laughing at the conversation or does not appear offended, another employee may overhear your banter and become offended thereby. There is nothing like a harassment or discrimination lawsuit to bring your career to an end.

  • Be careful of what you talk about: There is a bit of old dating wisdom that can be very useful for company gatherings: Do not talk about politics or religion. It is good practice to avoid any “hot button” issues or gossip altogether. Political views are not a protected classification, meaning that an employer may fire you for expressing a political viewpoint that does not conform with the employer’s own viewpoint. Similarly, an employer may choose to terminate your employment if he or she believes you to be a gossip based upon your behavior at the outing.

Finally, avoid putting yourself in any compromising situation because the chances are good that your immature stunt or off-color joke will be recorded and posted online. If this happens, keeping your job after the office party will be doubtful. Not only may you lose your job but you may find it extremely difficult to obtain employment in the future too. Consult experienced employment attorneys to remedy any adverse situation as much as possible.