- JetBlue has apologized after it received a drubbing on social media over an employee's Halloween costume. The worker held a cardboard sign stating that she was "homeless" and needed "help trying to get back to Puerto Rico or Cuba," according to NBCNews.com. A photo of the employee was posted on Twitter.
- The story reports that Derek Dombrowski, manager of corporate communications at JetBlue, sent an email to NBC News stating that the employee's costume was "clearly insensitive and not in line with our costume policy." Dombrowski said the situation was addressed immediately and he apologized to "anyone who was offended," though JetBlue did not directly respond to the original tweet or explain how the situation had been handled.
- JetBlue's website has a page devoted to Diversity & Inclusion that states the airline lives its mission every day "to inspire humanity as a leader in inclusion both inside and outside the company."
Halloween can be fun, but the holiday can create truly terrifying problems for grown-ups at work in the form of bad PR and even lawsuits.
In a recent opinion piece for HR Dive, attorney Hannah Caplan wrote about a Pakistani hotel employee in Michigan who sued his former employer for national origin discrimination after co-workers allegedly suggested that he dress up as Osama bin Laden and called him the "Taliban." The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a summary judgment ruling in favor of the employer because it did not have notice of the alleged comments between co-workers, but the court said it would be a question of fact as to whether the comments constituted a hostile work environment.
Caplan recommended that employers distribute a notice to employees before Halloween that reminds them of existing anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies and emphasizes that these policies apply to Halloween-related dress and behavior.