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Lawsuits, embarrassment among pitfalls
What could possibly go wrong with recognizing someone’s birthday at work?
Turns out, enough to make any self-respecting HR manager pay attention.
The seemingly innocuous workplace birthday celebration has spawned lawsuits about age and religious discrimination, generated numerous questions on attorney-advice websites, and inspired lengthy discussions on social media.
A recent question on the Society for Human Resource Management’s LinkedIn page about the best ways to celebrate employee birthdays elicited nearly 80 comments from HR professionals and company managers or owners. Darcey Peterson, SHRM-CP, PHR, an HR manager with Martin Foot and Ankle in York, Pa., started the conversation by asking others how she could best recognize birthdays at her 80-employee organization.
One helpful idea for small and midsize companies, she said in an interview with SHRM Online, was to partner with a local restaurant that provides birthday celebrants with a 15 percent discount off their next meal.
“Cost is a big factor for a small to medium-sized company, but showing appreciation for the staff is important, too,” she said.
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