Red Oak Law LLC: Real Estate & Estate Planning Attorney
Red Oak Law LLC is a boutique real estate, estate planning, and business law practice located in Brookfield, Wisconsin.


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Avoiding HR Nightmares on Halloween

We are quickly approaching the end of October, which means that many organizations will soon be confronted with whether, and how, to let employees celebrate Halloween. Handling this holiday adequately within your organization can prevent your place of business from becoming a house of horrors.


Managers and owners are likely to receive feedback from employees requesting a celebration of some sort. It is important to remember that some employees may have religious objections to the holiday, and those employees' beliefs must be respected by all employees (and management). This means in part that if the company elects to have any type of celebration, any employee must be allowed to opt out without negative repercussions.


If management determines that employees will be allowed to wear costumes while at work, the organization must clearly communicate expectations regarding any such deviation or exception from the company dress code policy. The manager or HR representative should indicate to employees that the costumes must be workplace appropriate and not potentially offensive to internal or external customers. It should also be communicated to everyone participating that the provisions of the company dress code policy allowing the company to send an employee home to change if his or her appearance is inappropriate remain in effect.

It is probably a good time to review certain policies with all employees, such as the company’s Code of Conduct, Anti-Harassment and Anti-Bullying Policies, and the aforementioned Dress Code Policy. It should be made clear that all such policies remain in place (as always) except for the limited allowances as to costumes.

Finally, special consideration should be given to prohibiting employees working offsite from participating as to costumes, and giving those employees the option to be onsite whenever the celebration occurs.


Determining a game plan within your organization for this holiday can go a long way in avoiding upset or offended employees, customers, or vendors, and will minimize the amount of time, effort, and money spent resolving the subsequent HR nightmares.