Capitol Coffee Break: Inappropriate Halloween Costumes at the Office

Halloween is just days away and more than 157 million Americans plan on celebrating this year. Employees wearing inappropriate costumes at the office is the subject of the latest CalChamber Capitol Coffee Break video.

According to the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) 2015 Halloween Consumer Spending Survey, more money will be spent on adult costumes ($1.2 billion) than children’s costumes ($950 million). With 64 percent of Americans and 81 percent of millennials participating in Halloween, your company may be contemplating a Halloween office party.

Most employees will not dress up for an office Halloween party. According to a 2013 Glassdoor survey, 52 percent of employees plan to attend or participate in their company’s event, but only about 11 percent are likely to wear a costume to work.

But for those who like to dress up, an office Halloween party creates plenty of opportunity for adults to cross the costume line. According to the NRF, the 10th most popular adult costume for both men and women is a wench/tart/vixen. Other seemingly safer top 10 choices like doctors/nurses (9th) and zombies (4th) can be interpreted in risqué ways. Even the most popular adult costume choice can cross the line as 43 million adults plan to dress as witches this Halloween. Employers should be concerned about the bawdy nature of some costumes.

Politics are equally tricky and ought to be avoided even though more than 774,000 adults will choose a political character costume this year, according to the NRF. A spirited jibe at a political figure could raise hackles and lead to office friction. Likewise, obvious mocking of figures within the company treads perilous ground. A joke at the boss’s expense can easily go too far.

Capitol Coffee Break Video

Along the lines of the NRF survey, CalChamber took its camera to the street and asked people around the State Capitol: “What are the most outrageous or inappropriate Halloween costumes you’ve encountered in the workplace?” Some of the responses included:

  • A French maid.
  • Adult man in a diaper.
  • Blackface.

Enjoy the entertaining clip and look for any famous Capitol faces. Share the most outrageous or inappropriate you’ve encountered with @CalChamber​ with the hashtag #CapitolCoffeeBreak.

The Capitol Coffee Break series put a humorous twist on subjects that are important to California employers.

The California Chamber of Commerce is the largest, broad-based business advocate to government in California, working at the state and federal levels to influence government actions affecting all California business. As a not-for-profit, we leverage our front-line knowledge of laws and regulations to provide affordable and easy-to-use compliance products and services.