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These Costumes Should Scare Employers

Halloween is only a few weeks away. Oh, the candy, the decorations, the costumes. It's a great time of year. Oh, and don't forget the pumpkin pie!

But if you're an HR manager, Halloween probably sends a few shivers down your spine. Should we have a Halloween party? Should we let employees wear costumes? Will we put "The Monster Mash" and "Thriller" on repeat play? What if a religious employee frowns on a Halloween party? But if we don't do anything for Halloween, will employees think management doesn't know how to have fun? Will we kill employee morale if we skip the candy corn? Keep in mind that the U.S. midterm elections fall a few days after Halloween this year. Politics could be on employees' minds even more than usual.

With many employees doing the jobs or two or three people, however, it's not a bad idea to let them have a little bit of Halloween fun. But where do you draw the line? The hardest part for employers is mixing a party atmosphere with the need to stay professional. Setting boundaries can be a hair-raising challenge.

I touched on this topic in a post last October. I even mentioned some of the costumes that could pose a problem for employers. But that list is so 2009. It's time for an update.

So without further ado, here are a few costumes employees could be wearing to work later this month unless you set some guidelines (and you have, haven't you?):

Christine O'Donnell -- From her "I am not a witch!" TV ad to her comments about masturbation, this costume could leave employers in need of a cold shower -- or at the very least, a few Ibuprofen.

Lindsay Lohan -- Do you really want the Hollywood bad girl in an orange jump suit greeting clients? What would customers think of the "f*&^ you" manicure?

Lady Gaga -- She's a very hot costume this year. She's even selling costumes on her website. Get ready for tin can hair!

Tiger Woods -- Oh, that long list of mistresses. All the good jokes to be told around the office! Think of it as a little sexual harassment on the back nine.

The Cigar Guy from the Tiger Woods video -- He's gone viral and he's everywhere! Some employee somewhere is going to dress like him for Halloween. Will a racial discrimination complaint follow?

Flo, the Progressive Insurance Lady -- She's perky and platonic, so what's the problem? Well, the marketing department might not like seeing another company promoted on work time. Probably not as funny if worn in a State Farm or Allstate office.

The Jersey Shore gang -- These costumes are popular this year, too. But could The Situation create some situations during work hours that you'd rather fugeddabout?

TLC's Polygamy family -- This costume theme could leave employers with three or four times the headache.

Mel Gibson -- "You should just f*&^ing smile and blow me!" Do I really need to say anything more?

Ke$ha -- The first time the employee tells customers she likes to brush her teeth with a bottle of Jack, let's just say they won't be coming back.

Joan Holloway from Mad Men-- Ahh, Mad Men! The wonderfully-written TV show that's based in an office! How could this costume miss? Let me think about it while I stuff my shirt with a whole sock drawer. Bonus points if this costume is worn by a male employee.

Don Draper from Mad Men
-- Handsome Don Draper's 1960s skirt chasing, "pour me a drink, lady" attitude is sexy on television but in today's office climate...well, not so much. Especially if your office Don Draper looks less like Jon Hamm and more like John Boehner.

Vampires -- The True Blood and Twilight series have put vampires on the pop culture radar, but it's all fun and games until somebody punctures a neck.

Michael Jackson -- Don't be surprised if you see The Gloved One moonwalking across the conference room. Young MJ is cool, but older MJ could make some co-workers uncomfortable.

Rick Sanchez -- He tells you the Jews control the media and then he pretends to taser your ass. HR, welcome to your nightmare.

All hail the Bielin-- This photo is burning up the Internets, too. Would customers get this costume, though? Or would an employee who supports the Tea Party bitch all day long about management allowing the employee to wear it?

Speaking of the Tea Party -- Tea Bags hanging from hats. Employees arguing about states rights and the national debt instead of working. Good times.

Glenn Beck -- Just imagine this employee giving long-winded, nonsensical lectures and crying on command all day long. Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell, no!

Rachel Maddow -- Would dressing up as MSNBC's liberal show host include wisecracks about gays and lesbians? The last thing your company needs right now is a hostile work environment claim or even the perception that management tolerates intolerance.

The Painful Tattoo Lady --- Listening to a co-worker yell "OOOOOWWWWWWWWWWW! OKAY! OKAY! OKAY!" all day long would be sort of distracting, no?

John Edwards --- He seems like ancient history in our lightening-fast media culture, but the case is heating up again. Besides, making fun of his hair never gets old.

Katy Perry -- Daisy Dukes and bikinis on top might melt your popsicle but it doesn't work at the office. I bet the employee could sing way better than Katy Perry, though.

Of course, employees worried about keeping their jobs may not want to take the risk of wearing a costume to work. But even the smartest people can do dumb things, so some general costume guidelines are still worth the effort. Whatever your company chooses to do, have fun and stay safe!

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