Workplace: Employee Halloween party goes bad when 'The Hulk' misbehaves

Q: Things got out of hand at our Halloween party. Our company decided to host one as we'd been too busy and short-staffed this summer for our annual fishing trip and several managers thought it would give morale a boost. I offered to host it, as I have a large living room.

One of the guys dressed up like the Hulk and was hoisting the ladies into the air. It was all in good fun, but one of the women acted outraged, and he handled it waving his arms over her, roaring and then picking her up two more times. Since I was the host and the senior manager at the party, I kept an eye on the situation.

Then another woman, not the woman who got picked up twice, apparently called her brother, an attorney. She then told the women that they could file assault charges. That rumor spread and ended the party. So much for morale and long live political correctness. Our general manager will be meeting with the women on Monday, but isn't sure how to approach this, as -- regardless of what he says -- some people aren't going to like it.

A: What should the GM say? "I'm sorry this happened. It won't happen again. I'll see that the Hulk apologizes to you."

You say you "kept an eye on the situation." Seriously? You let a man pick up an employee twice more after she acted outraged? Stop trying to downplay the women's reaction as political correctness. You might not have thought it so much fun if you were the one the Hulk hoisted.

If any of the other guys grumble that the women ended "good fun," you have additional party clean-up work to do -- or morale may tank further.

Q: I've worked alongside "Mary" for three years. In those three years, she's never made a mistake -- according to her. For example, when she fails to give me critical information by a deadline I've given her, and I mention it to her, she invariably says it was because I wasn't clear enough on what I needed or the deadline. I could give you dozens of other examples, but the bottom line is she always blames me for any problem.


Needless to say, this is annoying, but I've let her get away with it. I could easily print out the emails I sent her that totally laid out the deadline and what was needed, but haven't wanted to deal with how tense things will get if I show her how wrong she is.

Today, I paid for this. I asked my boss why he marked me down on my performance review in three areas and learned he unfairly considered me the problem in all the situations where I let Mary point the finger at me. When I tried to set the record straight, he told me I was defensive.

I left my review feeling my supervisor took Mary's side and that I have no option for getting fairly rated.

A: You can turn this around by learning a valuable lesson. Often, what we don't say gets us into more trouble than what we say. Your conflict aversion led you to swallow what you could have said, allowing Mary to cast all the blame on you.

You can get your supervisor to listen to you if you stop doing what you accuse Mary of doing -- finger-pointing. You consider your supervisor unfair, yet you never stood up for yourself. You see Mary as the problem because she shirks responsibility -- but you did the same thing.

If you want your supervisor to hear what you want to say now, tell him your performance review was a wake-up call to learning to deal with problems when they happen and in a way that solves them. Admit your culpability in colluding with Mary in a "who's to blame, it's you" work relationship -- and he may listen to you with fresh ears.

Lynne Curry writes a weekly column on workplace issues. She is author of "Solutions" and owner of the management/HR consulting/training firm The Growth Company Inc. Send your questions to her at Follow her on Twitter @lynnecury10, at or at her new site BullyWhispererTM (

Lynne Curry | Alaska Workplace

Lynne Curry writes a weekly column on workplace issues. She is author of “Navigating Conflict,” “Managing for Accountability,” “Beating the Workplace Bully" and “Solutions,” and Submit questions at or follow her on, or @lynnecurry10 on X/Twitter.