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What To Do When An Employee Doesn't Celebrate Halloween

It's October, which means it's time to break out the Halloween decorations and the bowls of candy. But what if one of your co-workers doesn't like Halloween and doesn't want to celebrate it?

This problem isn't actually all that uncommon, and different people have different reasons for hating Halloween. Some might find the holiday too creepy and scary while others might find it too consumer-ish. They might have a thing about corn syrup or candy, or they might shun it for religious reasons.

Whatever it is, you can feel like you're tip toeing around this co-worker as you pass the candy corn. Managers have good reason to be concerned. Are we setting ourselves up for weeks' worth of poor morale or -- worst case scenario -- a hostile work environment claim? What's a good manager to do?

First, talk to the employee privately to say that the other employees want to celebrate Halloween this year with decorations, candy, an office party, costumes or whatever, and that the employee is free to abstain from all activities. If the employee still has a huge problem with it, perhaps you can let him or her work some hours from home or find some other creative way of temporary accommodation. Ask the employee what might work, but don't let him or her ruin Halloween for everyone else.

Also remind the other employees to keep the decorations and costumes tasteful and dare I say it, cute. This means leaving the five layers of Dracula makeup at home and not buying the scariest decorations available at the Halloween store. The office Halloween party isn't the time to show off your revealing French maid costume or your new Rob Zombie-inspired gore mask, either. Most employees have the common sense to realize these things, but some do not. We're running a business people, not re-living Michael Jackson's Thriller video. A quick email reminder or memo should get the point across.

So pull out the decorations, fill up the candy bowl and put on the Monster Mash. Halloween happens only once a year! The Halloween-hating employee can surely deal for a few days, right? It's almost Christmas anyway, and there's always the hot new trend, JesusWeen. I'm not going to go there.


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