The Case for Keeping the Company Christmas Party
In the era of political correctness, the only type of party you may be going to this Christmas season is the “Holiday” Party. It seems a mere 20 years ago that there was no such thing as a “Holiday” party. So, why have companies been so quick to kill the Christmas party?
I believe it stems from our ever expanding governmental influence into the private sector and probably the fear of being sued. The Establishment Clause, the First Amendment, which is the basis for most of the legal battles regarding religious freedom, however, states as follows: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. The key here is to remember that the First Amendment is ensuring that the “government” does not establish or restrict religion and, therefore, ensuring religious freedom for the rest of us. The line of Supreme Court cases attempt to clarify the reach of the Establishment Clause by restricting public entities’ ability to display religious signs/symbols or be involved in religious activities during the Christmas season, although sometimes not so uniformly (Florey v. Sioux Falls School District , Lynch v. Donnelly, Allegheny County v. ACLU, Capitol Square Review Board v. Pinette, Bauchman v. West High School).
Then there is the Civil Rights Act (Title VII) that prevents religious discrimination. Religious discrimination involves treating a person, such as an employee, unfavorably because of his or her religious beliefs. It has not been determined, to my knowledge, through any legal precedent that having a Christmas party is a discriminatory act. Yet, it seems that employers are fearful of offending anyone if they have a Christmas party and, therefore, instead opt for a Holiday party. But why is something joyful considered offensive? Our litigious environment and the standards placed upon public entities probably are to blame for the death of the Christmas party by private companies.
So, why keep the corporate Christmas party? Christmas is celebrated by millions of people across the globe as the birth of Jesus. Christmas, December 25th, is a national holiday in the United States. Christmas is a season of giving and of love, demonstrating Christian values. Companies can still exercise religious freedom and demonstrate some of their values by celebrating Christmas and calling it what it is. “Merry Christmas” is just that – Merry. And anyone who takes offense to that should really do some self-examination as to why they feel so downtrodden by joyous occasions.
Merry Christmas Everyone!