A Little Common Sense Goes a Long Way With Halloween Costumes

By Carolyn A. Pellegrini and Chastity Bruno

With Halloween rapidly approaching, it’s a good idea to review a list of costume tips to keep the celebration fun for everyone.

Remember that even if you dress up outside of work, pictures of you in your costume may make it back to some of your coworkers.

Here are some tips to help guide you:

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  • Ask yourself if you’re likely to offend someone with your costume. If yes, choose something more neutral.
  • Consider your audience. A costume that fits in well at a friend’s party may be a tad much for the office.
  • Avoid costumes negatively portraying any religion. Additionally, don’t give anyone a hard time for not dressing up for Halloween as it may be against his or her religion to do so.
  • Avoid costumes that are too revealing. Stay away from the Playboy bunny outfit, regardless of how cute the bunny ears are!
  • Avoid costumes that enforce offensive stereotypes. Yes, we can all agree that Fat Albert was a hilarious television show. However, it is offensive for a skinny person to dress up as an overweight person and use it as a punch line.
  • Avoid costumes that portray political figures. Everyone has different political views and these types of costumes can be problematic, especially due to the close proximity between Halloween and Election Day.
  • Don’t wear “blackface.” We’re astounded that this point still needs to be made, but people, including celebrities, continue to violate this rule.
  • Avoid wearing super scary costumes to work. Believe it or not, some people might truly be afraid.

Finally, if you’re an employer that is considering having an office Halloween party, remember that the policies set forth in the employee handbook apply every day. You must continue to apply these policies consistently and Halloween is not an excuse for bad behavior.

This was originally published on Montgomery McCracken’s Employment Law Matters blog.

Carolyn A. Pellegrini is an associate in Montgomery McCracken's Labor and Employment Practice. Her law practice concentrates on employment litigation. She also serves as an editor of the firm's Employment Law Matters blog, which covers the many unique and challenging legal issues that employers face, as well as new decisions and laws, best practices and trends in the workplace. Contact her at a cpellegrini@mmwr.com.

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