Did you know celebrating Valentine’s Day at work could cause you a lot of problems- you could be hit by a sexual harassment law suit or even get fired for getting a well intended Valentines gift for your coworker. In this post I will show you how to avoid Valentine’s Day harassment especially if you are a woman.
But what is Valentine’s Day?
Most people around the world celebrate Valentines Day as a romantic holiday. A day when men get to show off their romantic side to the woman in their lives.
Therefore, Valentines Day shouldn’t be celebrated at work.
But before we go further lets understand the origins of Valentine’s Day.
When is Valentine’s Day Celebrated?
According to Wikipedia |Valentine’s Day, also called Saint Valentine’s Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, is celebrated annually on February 14. It originated as a Western Christian feast day honoring one or two early Christian martyrs named Saint Valentine and is recognized as a significant cultural, religious, and commercial celebration of romance and love in many regions of the world|.
What is the meaning of Valentine’s Day?
Valentine’s Day, holiday (February 14) when lovers express their affection with greetings and gifts. The holiday has origins in the Roman festival of Lupercalia, held in mid-February.
The festival celebrated the coming of spring. It included fertility rites and the pairing off of women with men by lottery.
Story of Valentine’s Day
It all started with a young priest in a jail cell.
That young priest was named Valentine.
The Valentine story starts in the third century. At the time, the Roman Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage because he believed that single men made better soldiers. Valentine was furious with this injustice, and bravely continued to perform marriages for young lovers; in secret, of course.
However, Valentine was sentenced to death. While awaiting for his sentence to be carried out, our young priest fell in love with his jailer’s daughter. She who would come to visit him in his cell.
Before dying,Valentine sent her a letter, signed, ‘From your Valentine.’ not knowing it would be an expression used even centuries after his death.
Now, we know the romantic connotations of Valentine’s Day. The question is, why would we celebrate it at work and get in trouble? I personally know a couple of people who got fired because their fun intentions were misinterpreted. At workplace it’s all about perception.
Your intentions are just to share some love. Maybe you wish to bring some levity to an otherwise boring work environment. But how is it perceived?
Morever, sometimes we women give signals that are misinterpreted
You have to be extremely cautious if you are the boss & are getting gifts for female employees. If you want to avoid getting hit by a sexual harassment law suit then. There are a few things that one can do to avoid Valentine’s Day Harassment.
How To Avoid Valentine’s Day Harassment?
More ever, sometimes we women (some men too) give signals that are misinterpreted.
Don’t Make Personal Comments
For example you are just being polite to your Boss by admiring his dress sense but he might think you are attracted to him. And when he starts admiring your beautiful red dress you don’t know what to do!
For Instance Keep Clear of Favoritism
This especially applies to you if you are the Boss male/female doesn’t matter. If you allow one employee to get away from -coming late, making obnoxious comments, not being 100% on the job just because he/she gets you gifts it will be perceived as favoritism.
In the similar context if you decide to get gifts for your employees you can’t play favorites especially if you wish to avoid discrimination law suits.
Be Culturally Aware
In the diversified world that we live in one has to be careful with what one says or gifts at workplace especially on Valentine’s Day which is a lover’s day. If we use phrases like ‘darling’ ‘sweetheart’ at work they might be perceived as harassment.
We have all seen it happen at places of work where someone forever flirts with his/her colleagues and then one day gets angry when someone gets her a gift that is inappropriate at work. Work is a professional place and you can avoid being harassed sexually or otherwise if you maintain a professional demeanor.
Having said that, I have learnt from experience that there are few popular gifts that one should avoid at workplace especially on Valentine’s Day.
3 Gifts To Steer Clear of On Valentine’s Day
Avoid Valentine’s Day Cards
Even if you plan on passing out seemingly benign, cute little cards at the office, it could hurt your reputation. Your attempt to be thoughtful could be seen as being “cute” and unprofessional.
Do not give cards or gifts commemorating the day to people who work for you or above you – they could get the wrong message.
Because the very nature of the holiday is intended as a day to remind people you love them, or have “romantic” feelings towards them, it is easy for a recipient to misunderstand your intentions.
Above all Keep Away from Group Valentine’s Day Emails
Firstly, Your employer does not pay you to use company time to send personal emails. But more important, if you send an email to a coworker, they can forward it on too easily to other people.
The way sexual discrimination laws work even if the person you sent it thought it was funny, anyone else who saw it in the workplace (i.e., the message was forwarded to) that is offended, they could file a complaint against you. In order to
At workplace a colleague forgot to lock his computer & another person sent a ‘sexy’ email to a female co-worker thinking it to be a Valentine’s day prank.
But oh boy things got ugly real fast & they both got fired.
Shun Getting Flowers: Avoid Harassing
It ties up staff who have to sign for or deliver the gifts, and it can be upsetting or distracting to employees who may have lost a loved one, or simply do not have a steady at the moment.
I worked with someone who got flowers for our lady boss on Valentine’s Day because he actually wanted to get flowers for a colleague on whom he had a crush. That poor soul thought that female worker was attracted to him because of the signals that she had been giving- daily flirting. But maybe that was her nature to be friendly so she could have easily avoided Valentine’s Day Harassment, by just being professional.
Top Valentines Day Sexual Harassment Lawsuit
Supervisor Sued Over Valentines Day Gift.
A male supervisor was found to be violating his store’s sexual harassment policy because he gave his female supervisor a greeting card, a stuffed animal and box of chocolates for Valentines Day. The plaintiff female supervisor claimed that the gifts suggested sexually suggestive material. However, the male supervisor believes that he was being set up by the female supervisor to get his position because she demanded that he give her gifts for Valentines Day. After the store investigated the matter, they found that the card did contain sexually expressive material because once you open up the card, there is a song playing called “Lets spend the night together” by Rolling Stones.
And so it continues. I came across so many stories when innocent ‘gifts’ on Valentines Day got people in trouble.
Our goal at giftsforwomenatwork.com is to promote harmony & appreciation at workplace by educating CEO’s & workforce alike.
In conclusion Valentine’s Day is a Day for lovers- a day when two people who love each other express or show their feelings for each other. As such it shouldn’t be celebrated at work. In order to avoid any kind of harassment, especially on Valentine’s Day its best to avoid ‘gifting’ on Valentine’s Day at work. If you were to avoid doing above mentioned things you can also easily avoid Valentine’s Day Harassment.
More importantly Valentine’s Day should not be used as an excuse to sexually harass your co-workers especially female co-workers.
There are other days when employees & co-workers can be given gifts, read my blog here.
If you don’t have someone special in your life to celebrate this Valentine’s Day then just be grateful for all the things you’ve especially your good life, your health & your family.
You could celebrate Valentine’s Day with your single friends & maybe have a pizza party together.
Or go to movies (not in COVID).
These are few things that can help to Avoid Valentine’s Day Harassment. Do you have any suggestions?
Or tell me what would you do if you didn’t have a Valentine in your life?
Based on her vast experiences with women in a variety of cultures, the author of Gifts for Women at Work feels a sense of obligation to both her clients and women like her to make their businesses work. A business is a series of relationships. Promoting cooperation, harmony and long term relationships will do more to solve problems and grow a business than anything else for little cost or effort. Using her experience, the author of Gifts for Women at Work hopes to teach you the Art of Gifting to grow you business and ultimately, your bottom line. Keep Gifting. Keep Growing.