Is Mistletoe a Defence to Sexual Harassment? - Vista
A bunch of mistletoe hanging above a door

Is Mistletoe a Defence to Sexual Harassment?

It’s Christmas party day at the office.

Christmas jumper day – done.

Christmas quiz – won.

Christmas lunch – devoured.

Spirits are high as your colleagues leave to get ready for tonight’s party.

Later, at the bar, you find a manager holding a bunch of mistletoe over their colleague’s head, gesturing for a kiss.

That’s okay…its Christmas, right?

Meanwhile, at Vista HQ we are gearing up for the influx of grievances following Christmas party antics.

Don’t get us wrong, it’s important for teams to get together socially, let their hair down, improve morale, team spirit and build relationships with their colleagues. We did the same thing last week!

The moral of this story is no, mistletoe is not a defence to sexual harassment.

So, if you are going out this weekend on your works ‘do’ – remember these key points:

  • Even though the party isn’t physically in the office (or even if it is), it is a work-related event and so remind employees that they must still behave appropriately and in accordance with
    your code of conduct and dignity at work policy
  • Reminding employees of their expected standards of behaviour is just as much for the employee as it is for the employer’s protection
  • If you are an operational manager reading this, check in with your HR team to ensure any communication you are sending is appropriately worded and is timely
  • For HR – check in with your employment law advisors
  • The increase in grievances we see during the start of the year often centre around inappropriate advances, sexual inuendo or comments on outfits and even fights – so remind employees of the importance of having fun but also behaving respectfully towards their colleagues.

If you do have a complaint land on your desk in the new year, here’s some resources which will help:

Merry Christmas!

Go back
Dignity at Work Employee Relations Employment Law

Share via social media