Celebrating Birthdays in the Workplace

Believe it or not, seemingly innocuous workplace birthday celebrations have spawned lawsuits about age, and religious discrimination.

If you want to have a workplace birthday celebration don’t:

  • have a policy of recognizing birthdays if you are going to inconsistent. By celebrating some birthdays and not others may hurt employee morale
  • point out that someone’s having a birthday via email or other public forums without first asking if the person is comfortable with it
  • publicize the year of someone’s birth
  • arrange for a cake or birthday song without first asking if the person is comfortable with it, not everyone wants their birthday celebrated
  • pressure employees to contribute money to a birthday gift or attend a birthday lunch

If an employee agrees to a birthday celebrations do:

  • Send electronic birthday cards
  • Surprise with decorations at the employee’s desk
  • Take the birthday person to lunch
  • Make a contribution to the charity of the employee’s choosing
  • Monthly celebrations, perhaps with a cake, that acknowledges all workers born in that month

https://shrm.org, “To Celebrate Birthdays at Work or Not?” Dana Wilkie, February 6, 2015

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