Is Being Forced to Blow Out the Candles an OSHA Violation?

Businesswoman blowing out birthday candle

We employment lawyers tend to be sensitive folk, but I never considered birthday parties as a source of litigation until now.

Karen Michael, a Virginia employment lawyer, reports on recent lawsuits relating to workplace birthday celebrations, including (1) a worker who claimed age discrimination relating to her co-workers teasing her about her age at her 50th birthday party, and (2) two EEOC suits on behalf of Jehovah’s Witness followers who felt that celebrating birthdays was a “sin.”

Hmmm. The above lawsuits may be legitimate (employees should not be harassed because of age, and employers must reasonably accommodate the religious beliefs of their employees), but I wonder whether I should sue my older brother for intentional infliction of emotional distress. He annually taunted me during my childhood parties, maliciously altering the lyrics after “Happy birthday to you,” to state and falsely allege that: (1) I lived in a zoo, (2) I looked like a monkey, and (3) I smelled like one, too.

Michael Homans is a Labor & Employment attorney and Chair of the Litigation Department at Flaster Greenberg PC. For more employment law updates, including news and links to important information pertaining to legal developments that may affect your business, subscribe to Michael’s blog, or follow him on Twitter @EmployLawUpdate.

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