Halloween at Work. Make sure you’re covered.

Whether you hate them or love them, you have to agree – Halloween at work can be a scary proposition if you run your own business.  While encouraging your employees to dress in costume or hosting a Halloween party can be morale-boosters, don’t forget that all this merriment also has the potential to backfire on the company. In fact, countless businesses over the last 10 years have faced Employment Practices Liability Insurance claims from employees due to Halloween-related events at work.

So what is Employment Practices Liability Insurance or EPLI and what does it have to do with Halloween?

“EPLI” is a type of liability insurance that covers claims made by employees.  For example, if any employee harasses or discriminates against another employee (or is even alleged to have done so), EPLI will provide a defense and possibly claim payment on behalf of the business. Any business owner knows that is a critical coverage to protect the business owner from meritless claims brought by disgruntled employees. We know business owners aim to be just and non-discriminatory, but o age and gender gaps can lead to miscommunication, and EPLI coverage can serve as a last line of defense against employment claims.


So as you head into your Halloween at work festivities, keep the following potential risks in mind:

Religion: Some cultures and religions view celebrating Halloween as a form of worship. Some employees might request a day off as “religious accommodation” and, you as a business owner or manager, need to be prepared for that.


Inappropriate Costumes: Costumes. Costumes. Costumes. In any office there is always an employee who will push the boundaries or completely overstep them when it comes to a “workplace appropriate attire.” If you decide to allow or even encourage costumes at work, be sure to forbid costumes that are intended to replication stereotypical images of people who are members of a protected class (e.g., handicap, elderly) Set a Halloween dress code, which goes beyond the company’s normal workplace dress code.


Harassment: Some employees see Halloween as an opportunity to pull practical jokes, or send and receive emails with menacing, threatening or explicit content. It’s not a bad idea to remind everyone about your harassment policy and email policy just prior to Halloween.