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Guidelines for Holiday Decorations

Best Practices for Holiday Decorations in the Workplace

  1. Ensure that all holiday activities are voluntary. This includes parties, luncheons and gift exchanges, etc. Every employee may not feel comfortable participating in the activities or their religious beliefs may prevent their participation.
  2. Employees who choose not to participate in holiday activities should not be viewed or treated negatively.
  3. If time is given during the workday to participate in employer-sponsored celebrations, those who choose not to participate on account of religious beliefs should be given the same time off.
  4. Employers cannot prevent one employee from putting up Hanukkah decorations in their private space, but allow another employee celebrating Christmas to decorate his/her private space.
  5. Supervisors, Managers should not be perceived as endorsing or supporting religion generally or one religion over another.
  6. Employers cannot require an employee to decorate for the Holiday Season.

What type of decorations can I display and where can I display them?

Public Space:
Any place with physical or visual access by the public that is not a private work space. (Examples: lobbies, reception areas, front counters, conference rooms,
community centers, classrooms, exteriors of buildings and pools)

*Holiday decorations with religious content?  No

**Seasonal decorations?  Yes

Shared Work Space:
Work Spaces used or shared by employees. This includes desks in job share
arrangements. (Examples: copy rooms, break rooms, bathrooms, conference
rooms, classrooms, shared offices/desks or other shared work areas)

*Holiday decorations with religious content?  No

**Seasonal decorations?  Yes

Private Work Space:
Work space assigned exclusively to one employee (Examples: offices, cubicles and desks)

*Holiday decorations with religious content?  Yes

**Seasonal decorations?  Yes

*Holiday decorations with religious content include but are not limited to: nativity scenes, menorah, etc.
**Seasonal decorations include but are not limited to: reindeer, Santa, lights, snowflakes, snowmen, candy canes, etc.

What happens if an employee complains?

Please contact the Office for Access and Equity (OAE) at (312) 996-8670. Remember decorations may not run afoul of the University’s Harassment and Discrimination policies.
For religious accommodations not covered here please contact the Office for Access & Equity at (312) 996-8670.