Here’s a story that shows how important it is to be careful about the costume you wear to an office Halloween party.
A woman who held a mid-level executive job at a Massachusetts company “sued her company and two top executives for alleged sexual harassment and for creating a hostile working environment.”
The company investigated her initial complaints and determined that she was in the wrong.
She ended up filing a civil suit in Massachusetts trial court, specifically citing the company’s raucous Halloween parties, with people dressing and behaving inappropriately.
She lost the case, “at least in part because the jurors got to see several photos showing her dressed provocatively at company Halloween parties.” The company’s attorney argued that “the photos proved that she had embraced the company’s ‘work hard, play hard’ culture and that she was not a victim of that culture.”
She appealed the verdict, arguing that the trial judge had been wrong to admit the photos as evidence. She lost again.
Right or wrong, juries and the general public often see a woman’s dressing provocatively as proof that she welcomed sexual advances, whether that’s true or not.
We’re not taking a position on that issue in this post. We’re just offering a bit of friendly advice: If you want to dress up as a sexy French maid or pirate, the office Halloween party is probably not the best place to do it. Another tip: Remember that photos that you assume are private could show up on the Internet. Something to think about.