With unemployment rampant in this down economy, those with steady full-time jobs are lucky indeed. That paycheck is nice, but finding colleagues that we like is a real bonus too. Many employers encourage camaraderie among employees and often have company-sponsored outings to facilitate bonds between co-workers. These social gatherings can be considered so important to the workplace that being excluded from them may be considered workplace bullying according to an article on BNET; even worse these offsite celebrations can become public relations nightmares and tremendous liabilities if not properly managed. Read on for examples of offsite antics gone awry.
Vikings on a Boat
Sports figures have long had the reputation of getting into trouble every now and then. But when four Minnesota Vikings football players were charged with various misdemeanors, it made headlines. Dozens of the team's players were on two chartered boats on Lake Minnetonka.
According to Minnesota Public Radio, the charges had to do with statutes that forbade public sexual activity and nudity. Apparently, various women were seen on the boat engaging in questionable "activities" with these players in front of other passengers. It wasn't clear whether the women were prostitutes or whether they may have been paid to travel from outside of Minnesota.
A disturbance can break out at the most unlikely of places. In West Springfield, Massachusetts, an annual Law Day event went very wrong, according to MassLive.com. It was a formal dinner and awards ceremony for members of the local law enforcement community. The purpose was to take note of the "importance of the country's legal system."
Well unfortunately, that purpose was somewhat forgotten when Robert Kane, a city tax collector, allegedly punched Raymond Feyre, who worked for the District Attorney's office. It seems that the two had been friends at one time and were often seen together at local functions. The altercation took place after the event concluded and may have been related to a sexual harassment complaint filed by Kane's wife against Feyre. Needless to say, most likely this was a Law Day that few of the attendees will ever forget.
Trick or Treat
When October rolls around, many of us start thinking about Halloween parties. Some offices have parties and encourage creative costumes. The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agency had a costume party that resulted in a federal report.
An employee donned a costume consisting of a black and white striped prison uniform, a dreadlock wig, and dark make-up applied to his face. ICE officials served as judges for the costume contest and chose the "escaped prisoner" as winner for "most original costume." Pictures were taken, including one with the winner and Assistant Secretary Julie Myers, one of the judges. A few hours after the party, Myers realized her error in judgment, ordered the pictures destroyed, and reprimanded the winner of the contest.
Social gatherings are a great way to get to know the people that we work with, but good judgment is required. Employers and employees alike don't want to read about the event in the newspaper the next day.
For more information visit:
"Four Vikings charged in boat party scandal" by Brandt Williams, December 15, 2005.
"Understanding the Reasons for Workplace Bullying" by BNET Editorial.
"Holyoke official reportedly assaults district attorney staffer" by Stephanie Barry. MassLive.com, May 2, 2008.
"The ICE Halloween Party: Trick, Treat, or Cover-up?" Majority Staff Report of US House Committee on Homeland Security, April 2008.
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