Can an employee be excluded from a social function thrown by their employer?

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Can an employee be excluded from a social function thrown by their employer?

I recently attended a holiday party for work. Then one of my bosses asked who was not at the holiday party last year, so I raised my hand and stated that we did not have a holiday party last year. I was then informed my boss (in front of everyone) that there was a party and I was not invited because I did not participate in the secret Santa. However, the reason I didn’t participate was because I was only part-time and my husband lost his job. Today I found out that the employees where given a note that said that they would be terminated if they told me about the party. Is it legal to exclude an employee for financial reasons and then threaten people’s jobs.

Asked on December 16, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Delaware

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Yes, an employer can do this. The fact is that not all employees need to be treated the same, or even fairly. That is as long as no form af actionable discrimination plays a role in such treatment (and based on the facts presented it did no)t. Additionally, unless your employer's action was prohibited by the terms of an employment contract, union agreement or compay policy, it was legal.

The fact is that in at will employment, an employer can set the terms and conditions of the workplace much as it sees fit. In turn, an employee can choose to work for an employer or not.


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