Q: Holiday parties for employees always bring out challenges, but I may have one this year that takes it to a higher level. Our company with approximately 200 employees always hosts a nice Friday or Saturday holiday evening dinner with dancing, etc. in December. Everyone is invited to bring a spouse or guest. It’s been well-attended, with few issues of any magnitude over the years.
This past summer, a male employee was involved in sexual relationships with several women in the company. He resigned quickly, and it seems that people have pretty much moved on. One woman in the office remains in a relationship with him and has voiced intentions to bring him to our party. This seems like a bad idea because employees he either had an affair with or attempted to date will be at the party, some with their significant others.
Should the company “ban” him?
B. B., North Chatham, MA
A: Would it be simpler if the Lothorio doesn’t attend the holiday party? Absolutely. Unfortunately, in this situation, unless there is a legal reason which is beyond the purview of etiquette, banning this individual is not the answer. The current policy is clean and simple: employees can bring a guest. The problem is once you start banning people for one reason, what’s to stop people from wanting to ban someone else for another reason? If an employee’s significant other is a loud-mouthed braggart who becomes the center of attention, it’s still not acceptable to call the employee aside and tell her she can’t bring him. It’s a slippery slope that should be avoided.
As the woman in question is an employee, she should be able to invite whomever she pleases, and if Lothario attends the party, he will be a guest and should be treated as one. One would hope that she would use some consideration and think twice about bringing him, given the effect he could have on others at the party. Even if she does bring him, people tend to socialize with whom they are comfortable. With as many as 200 employees plus their significant others in attendance, there’s no need for anyone who is uncomfortable around the Lothorio to have to spend time with him.