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I work in a fairly small department, I have 8 coworkers. 7 of them are great, we're good friends, and I love spending time with them - we hang out outside of work often, but usually in groups of 3-4. The other guy has sexually harassed me and my wife separately (my wife doesn't work here), gets really drunk and says racist things, and has to dominate every conversation.

I've recently moved to a new house, and I'd like to have my work friends over for a dinner party. I know it would be a ton of fun with the coworkers I'm close with, and this guy would absolutely ruin it. Would it be inappropriate to purposely exclude this guy?

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    Do HR or your boss know about the sexual harassment already? If not, do you have enough documentation (dates, times, details, witnesses if any) to back it up if asked? If HR doesn't know or doesn't believe you, and the guy complains about being excluded, it could be hard to deal with. – Kevin Jan 15 '19 at 22:17
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    Yes HR knows, several employees have filed complaints over the past year and nothing's happened. – synthesis Jan 15 '19 at 22:18
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    "HR knows, several employees have filed complaints over the past year and nothing's happened" - something will, when someone takes the legal route. HR seem delinquent in their duties here, and it is liable to come back and bite them, and the company. – Mawg says reinstate Monica Jan 16 '19 at 8:19
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    @jcmack: I'm not quite following. It's not a work function and therefore it's inappropriate to not invite him? This implies that it would be appropriate to not invite him to work functions? Did you get your wires crossed or am I missing something? – Flater Jan 16 '19 at 9:22
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    @flater Yeah I mistyped. I meant that since it's a private party (i.e. not work-related), you can invite whomever you chose (i.e. it's appropriate to not invite the rude coworker). Just because we're coworkers it doesn't mean we're friends and that I have to spend my own time with you. I just wouldn't called it a work friends party because it does make you seem cliquey. FYI I'm usually one of the ones not invited to my coworkers' drinking parties and honestly I'm not offended. – jcmack Jan 16 '19 at 17:49

17 Answers 17

234

Would it be inappropriate to purposely exclude this guy?

It's your party.

That means you get to invite whomever you like and exclude whomever you choose.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Jane S Jan 19 '19 at 7:25
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    Does this answer implies that it's never rude not to invite anyone because it's a party? – Alex - Stop it SE Jan 20 '19 at 18:56
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    -1 on this answer. It's a bit glib and doesn't really address the workplace issue at play. – dwjohnston Jan 21 '19 at 0:05
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    it's your party, and you can cry if you want to! – PatrickT Jan 21 '19 at 14:08
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    @colmde "Justified rudeness" is not really rudeness at all, is it? – Mike Borkland Jan 26 '19 at 15:49
184

If you are all peers, it is simply very, very rude. It sounds like you may not care about that, since the person who you want to exclude deserves to be excluded.

If you are a manager, then it gets problematic, rather than just rude. According to Alison at AskAManager, you are opening yourself up to legitimate charges of favoritism. If you are in HR, that could also be a problem (Another AskAManager link).

If you are all peers, and you want to send a message as well as have a good time, then invite all but the one co-worker.

Lightness Races in Orbit summed this up well in a comment:

It is rude, and potentially awkward, but for good reason and therefore probably an acceptable tradeoff. Because you don't mind being rude to someone that you really, really don't like. But it's semantics really.

Being the only person in an existing delineated group of people excluded from some event, whether you have any right to be there or not, whether it's work related or not, whether you're a d@@k or not, and whether it actually makes you "offended" or not, is rude. That's just a fact. But it doesn't matter because the individual concerned has made his own bed and now he gets to sleep in it :)

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – user44108 Jan 17 '19 at 16:42
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    If you are a manager, then it gets problematic, rather than just rude. - I imagine it's only problematic if OP is that person's manager (or manager's manager) specifically. Of course, if you are the manager of someone who has been the subject of multiple HR complaints, behaves offensively, has personally harassed you and your wife, and you are unable to do something about it then you have far bigger problems than a party... – Tgr Jan 19 '19 at 22:37
  • Is it technically possible to be rude to a racist? – PatrickT Jan 21 '19 at 14:09
  • @PatrickT Of course, you can be rude to Hitler if you want to (and have a time machine). That doesn't mean it's bad to be rude :) – Luaan Jan 21 '19 at 16:33
102

I'd like to have my work friends over for a dinner party.

You're not inviting your co-workers, you're inviting your friends you happen to work with. That co-worker is not your friend, so you do not invite him.

You may want to inform the invitees that he has not been invited. By your description, they'll probably be relieved, but at the very least they'll know to keep quiet about the invitation if necessary.


Editing to add:

It may not be necessary to be secretive about it, but there's no need to rub it in, so keeping quiet about it may be enough to avoid unpleasantries.

Be prepared to be forced to have a conversation about it. If so, it's advisable to not accuse his person, but point out his factual behaviour, to avoid discussion.
So not "you're a rapist and a racist and you drink too much", but more along the lines of "3 months ago, you did X and said Y, and on occasion Z, 2 weeks ago, you drank too much and fought the bouncer; that is why I've not invited you because I'm afraid you'll repeat that behaviour."

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    +1 This! Work and private life should be separated - because of such things it is never a good idea to blur the edges. – rexkogitans Jan 16 '19 at 12:40
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    Best answer IMO. The answers which suggest it is rude don't seem to be factoring in that we're talking about a party taking place at the OP's house – Jon Bentley Jan 16 '19 at 14:02
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    While I do agree, I feel inviting 3 of 10 or 100 employees is definitely not rude yet inviting all but one (2 out of 3, 9 out of 10 etc) would still be considered rude. I think OP has good reason regardless, and shouldn't worry about it – Tas Jan 16 '19 at 21:35
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    "You're not inviting your co-workers, you're inviting your friends you happen to work with." This sentence doesn't make any sense. If it did, you could argue that you can f*ck around in the office too ("you're not sleeping with your co-workers, you're sleeping with your lovers you happen to work with") and yet in most offices, this would be frown upon. Actually, the sentence could also be used as a justification by the abuser ("I haven't complimented my co-workers, I've complimented people I feel sexually attracted to who I happen to work with"). The distinction you claim doesn't exist. – BigMadAndy Jan 18 '19 at 4:00
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    @BigMadAndy i completely disagree with you. Nothing wrong with being lovers with coworkers, so yeah "fucking around" is fine if all parties consent. Also nothing wrong with complimenting or feeling sexually attracted to co-workers. This is not harassment! I'm personally sick and tired that it's becoming a thing that these things are not okay. People are humans with emotions and fall in love or feel attracted to others. This is natural. People are becoming snowflakes. And yes, sexually harassment is an issue, but far too many incidents are being categorised as it. – Ivo Beckers Jan 19 '19 at 20:51
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Yes it could be construed as rude or it could offend the person being excluded, and that possible awkwardness is a risk that you would have to be willing to deal with.

But of course, not inviting him is the right move to make. Him spoiling your party sounds like a far worse outcome.

You just need to prepared for some perhaps passive-aggressive dynamics in the workplace - but I imagine this guy knows why he is being excluded.

The other awkward scenario is that he directly confronts you why he wasn't invited, in which case you can give him an honest and direct answer.

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    From reading other comments, there seems to be a significant % of people who find nothing rude about choosing who to invite or not invite to your own house (myself included). It may be useful therefore to expand a little on why you believe it would be rude. – Jon Bentley Jan 16 '19 at 14:01
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    @ruakh It's the wrong analogy. In the OP's example we have two distinct but overlapping categories of people. The first is the OP's colleagues and the second is the OP's friends. If the scenario were the OP inviting their colleagues into the office kitchen to have a drink together, then I agree that it would be a snub to leave one person out. However here the OP is inviting their friends to their house - nobody should have any reasonable expectation of automatically being on the OP's list of friends merely because they work together. – Jon Bentley Jan 16 '19 at 23:48
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    Excluding/disinviting abusers is never rude. -1 – R.. GitHub STOP HELPING ICE Jan 17 '19 at 0:18
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    @R..: It's silly to downvote an answer that you otherwise agree with simply because different people define the word "rude" differently. – ruakh Jan 17 '19 at 1:35
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    A thing isn't not rude just because the person you're being rude to deserves it. – Lightness Races with Monica Jan 17 '19 at 14:20
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That depends, how bad is the --

The other guy has sexually harassed me and my wife separately (my wife doesn't work here), gets really drunk and says racist things, and has to dominate every conversation.

yeah, come on, you know the answer to this. You don't owe him anything. If I was one of your coworkers, I'd be upset if you invited him. Don't invite him.

13

YOUR house, YOUR rules.

You're not forced to invite an unwanted person in your house around your loved ones (probably including children) who has previous records of misbehaving and sexual harrasement in a public place, let alone what he could do in a private and intimate place.

I can argue that inviting him could pose a security threat also, given that most likely alcohol will be around.

10

You mention that this person has harassed both you and your wife on separate occasions.

You are having a party for your new house (I imagine your wife will be present), you are inviting some people from work you have a good relation with, and you are wondering if you should invite that one bad person.

I'm not sure your wife will feel comfortable having that person in her house.
She may be upset if she finds out you are even considering inviting that person.

Don't invite him.
Why do you even care whether or not it is appropriate to exclude him?

  • I agree with your first paragraph but I'm not sure what you're trying to imply by the second "I'm sorry, but I have the impression you're not telling the whole story." From what I can tell, the OP is just looking to make sure there's no workplace repurcussions from not inviting this one guy. That would explain why they've asked it here. – Philbo Jan 16 '19 at 9:33
  • @Philbo: you're right. I've adapted my answer accordingly. – Dominique Jan 16 '19 at 9:38
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    I think this answer would be improved by clearly stating your response to OP's question, rather than merely asking rhetorical questions and leaving people to assume your implied conclusion. – V2Blast Jan 16 '19 at 16:14
  • From OP's other comments, you're entirely off base when you assume he is considering inviting the troublemaker. Perhaps he is considering inviting fewer of his work friends -- or even none of them -- to avoid the "all but one scenario" – Ben Voigt Jan 21 '19 at 5:46
  • @BenVoigt: my point exactly: when that one person has harrassed him and his wife, there's nothing wrong with the "all but one" scenario. – Dominique Jan 21 '19 at 8:19
6

Telling a personal story, it did happen to me that two coworkers did not invite me for their respective marriages, while inviting most people in the department.

I did nothing about it. I have no quarrel with them, and those are particularly expensive parties, so I respect their right to invite whoever they want. In both cases, other people came to me and asked if I would be attending, to which I provided lame excuses. In both cases I did not confront them, despite I suspecting the invitations had been handed at the workplace while I was in vacation, but I thought of no way to ask about that which would not result in the person believing I wanted to invite myself.

A party at your house could also be a subject of limited attendee's numbers. There's at least a finite number of chairs at your house. It could as well be your wife's party.

In your case, you do have a reason to have issues with said colleague.

My advice is that you should avoid to do this kind of party frequently. One party I'm not invited, I suck it up. If every week there's a party and I'm out, this crosses the border to what I believe I should tolerate.

Then again, if you are not a manager now or in the near future, what could said person do? In my case there was nothing HR could or should do for me. You mention that HR did nothing about the harassment situation, maybe he has actually been adverted verbally or in written in private (as this things should be done), but you were not informed. Would receiving a warning pose a problem to you? If I was your manager, I'd follow the companies policies, but I would think no less of you for a misconduct of this kind.

Consider as well to invite the person out of politeness, If someone I dislike is hosting an event, I'll likely be voluntarily out, maybe I'll show up late and leave early. Seems like your guy would not do this though.

In a different note, remember to maintain friends outside the workplace! I strongly recommend having a social life that does not depend on coworkers. Imagine you get fired, would you be able to keep up attending parties with all the coworkers who are still at the same company? If you became their boss, wouldn't that unbalance the relationships? I'm saying that because if I moved to a new place, I would first throw a party with my non-coworker friends.

5

Just want to contribute my view. For me excluding one of your co-workers for a party is a bit demeaning. But because of the fact that one of your co-workers act rudely, because of the harassment that you are saying, then it is high time for him to be excluded in such occasions especially that you want it to be a pure fun get-together. Then if he confronts you for such action, then just tell him/her of his rudeness and make him/her realize it.

2

If I found out I was the only one not being asked to a party, I would definitely be upset (you may not care, but do we want to make it worse?).

But when you mentioned that you get together in groups of 3-4, an idea came to my mind - Plan TWO parties. Invite 3 or 4 of your coworker friends to the first party, and then invite the remaining friends to the second party. You are still excluding the one coworker, but since you aren't inviting everyone to each party it would be less obvious, and more like the get-togethers that are already happening.

  • Welcome to the Workplace! Take the tour if you haven't already. – V2Blast Jan 16 '19 at 16:15
  • I don't see how this helps. Both parties are the same, OP is invited to neither, and everyone would be able to easily figure out that the two parties they were invited to in the same place at the same time are in fact the same party. I don't see the benefit of this compared to just inviting individuals to your party as you normally would. Not being a part of two groups could still make the coworker upset, possibly more so if they figure out it was the same party. Inviting individuals who you get along well with seems like it would be the same; but without having to act like 2 parties. – JMac Jan 16 '19 at 19:39
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    @JMac: Where did you get "in the same place at the same time" from? This answer is literally suggesting having two separate dinner parties, presumably on different days or different weeks. It doesn't have to be the set-up for a sitcom. ;-) – ruakh Jan 16 '19 at 22:45
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    @ruakh Which is obviously still a poor solution that leaves OP having to break up his own party. I get the feeling you were kidding though anyways. – JMac Jan 17 '19 at 1:15
  • @JMac: I think you must be confusing me with someone else. (In particular, please note that I did not write this answer.) – ruakh Jan 17 '19 at 1:31
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I don't necessarily agree that inviting the colleagues creates an obligation to invite all 8. As a person, I may invite any friends I wish to my parties, and clearly the one colleague is not my friend. The key here is that this party does not become a work event. I can have fun with people, but if I'm making the party about work, then it would not be appropriate to exclude only one work colleague.

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    Yeah, just invite some non-work people and it won't be thought of as a "work event" – Noah Cristino Jan 16 '19 at 20:31
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    Even if it were about work, it would be appropriate to exclude this person. They should not be present in the workplace either. They should have been fired a long time ago. – R.. GitHub STOP HELPING ICE Jan 17 '19 at 0:21
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There's one potential hole left here by the other answers. If it is a personal party with your friends (whether they are coworkers or not), who you invite is up to you and not a concern of the workplace. However, if the event becomes a venue of discussion related to accomplishing tasks in the workplace, especially if such events recur, it could become an issue of concern to HR. It depends on whether or not the excluded person has a legitimate case to make that their lack of information obstructed their ability to perform their job at the same level as everyone else.

2

If it is not workplace related then you can invite whoever you want.

But if it can somehow be seen as workplace related then this would constitute bullying by exclusion.

To clarify:

If it is a personal activity then no one can dispute it or claim any kind of discrimination. However for an external meeting to become a "workplace related activity" all it would take is people to start discussing work, then it becomes a work related meeting. For example if two people made any kind of decision during this "personal event" it is now a workplace related meeting. And if one person was deliberately excluded from attending for personal reasons by the event organizer who could have had some input or objection to this workplace related decision then you have a clear case of discrimination and bullying.

OP is on thin ice with this one, the safest thing to do is invite everyone and be civil.

1

(1) Make invitations orally - no e-mail trail unless it is personal e-mails or texts.
(2) Make it explicit who is invited and who is not, but you do not have to justify why or any details, not even about the harassment or anything - that is a separate issue.

Example: "Hi Jane, I'm having a housewarming on XYZ, would you and yours be interested in attending? This is a private event with some other coworkers."

=== The Sexual Harassment is absolutely not related to this question, but I'd advise you to make sure you follow-up on that ===

0

It is your party, and therefore appropriate to invite only who you want to. If you don't invite him and he confronts you, tell him he was not invited because your wife specifically asked you not to invite him, due to his previous sexual harassment of her.

  • Welcome to the Workplace! Take the tour if you haven't already. – V2Blast Jan 16 '19 at 16:11
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    If it were me, and my wife were the reason I wasn't inviting someone, I wouldn't bring her into it. Either take the heat for it or because it is work give another (possibly transparent/flimsy) excuse like "We only had enough chairs for X people." – J. Chris Compton Jan 16 '19 at 17:30
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    @J.ChrisCompton I wouldn't give another excuse. A simple "No, you're not invited" is enough. If pressed for "why?" then "because I don't like you" should suffice. You need not like the people you work with, so long as you can work together (In the end you're there for the employer, not to be friends. Being friends with some colleagues is just a benefit). What you do with whom outside of the workplace is private and, honestly, entirely none of that co-workers business. (btw, +1 for taking the heat instead of shifting the blame/reason) – rkeet Jan 17 '19 at 8:50
  • @rkeet That works, but I'd stick to my guns, saying "I did not invite you". If they continue, I wouldn't give a reason like you did; often, the reason inflames the other person (even if it's a legit reason). I wouldn't say I forgot to invite them, I'd say I didn't invite them. That's reason enough. – user45266 Jan 17 '19 at 18:15
0

Here is a real answer for you.

You don't invite him. Because of the things he did. It isn't rude in the least. Not at all. Be open if he asks.

It is apparent that this guy has done bad things at work and you have expressed that you do not like him - even if it may not have been directly. In the workplace you will be considered weak if you let this bully go to your party out of niceness. It could even backfire if he does something else wrong - I mean if you know this and he does it at your house with your guests kind of your fault right?

The other thing is it would be really hard for any HR person to take much merit in he said she said sort of stuff if you invite the guy over to your house after the incidents.

So rude? No.

Invite? No.

Be direct with him? Yes.

What does this do for your workplace environment? Makes you look like a take charge leader.

0

This answer adds another point of view, rather than directly opting for invite/no invite. In my opinion, this kind of question is highly subjective but answers can be provided to guide the OP in making his final decision.

The fact is that it is all relative. Thus, the choice can be different depending on the OP's culture and relationship status with the whole group.

Why you should not invite the guy

Because of course that is your house, your rules, and your own freedom to invite whoever you want to your private property.

You never want to feel uncomfortable because of the presence of an unwanted person. You are doing the event to enjoy your time, not because you have been ordered to.

Why it is rude not to invite the guy

First, you may just want to say nothing to the offending employee. Thus, it will be possible that other people will inform him about the event.

Andrew, are you going to Bob's party? I need to borrow a ride.

Huh, what party?

You won't care if someone who harmed you feels offended by not being invited. In fact, we all know people who, despite their blatant wrongs, still feel on the right side and play victims.

It's when the above conversation happens, or when people start to comment about the past event that, that thing might go downhill.

Not inviting Andrew might be seen rude by the other coworkers' standpoint. Bob, why didn't you invite him? might be a question in some environments. Be prepared to it.

Now, it is possible that either the other employees know or not about your precedents with Mr. Andrew. If they do, or at least do know that you are in bad relationship, they may understand. If not, you can look rude because you skipped a friend of your friends.

In conclusion

In general, the choice of inviting or not a single individual to a private event really depends on:

  • The OP's ability to keep discretion about it
  • Whether the bad relationship is known or unknown to the people surrounding the OP
  • The group's attitude towards the invitee, e.g. if he is well liked or not by the group

Choices could be: - Not to invite the guy - Give up the party and perhaps invite only friends that do not work with you (all or none approach)

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