Ask the Labor Lawyer #16 - Three Reasons to say "Merry Christmas" at Work!


Snow is falling in Idaho, and it’s the time of year where employees ask: Can I say “Merry Christmas” at work?

Short answer: Yes, you can, and yes, you should! Business owners, too, can join the fun of the season.

Here are my three reasons to say, “Merry Christmas!” at your place of employment.

  1. Employers must accommodate religious expression.

    Religion is a protected category under our federal civil rights laws. Employers must reasonably accommodate personal religious expression unless it causes an undue hardship. Decorating your personal workspace for Christmas, and using your preferred Christmas greeting, are forms of religious expression.

    Of course, in our celebration, Christians should not unduly burden business operations, or force participation by unbelieving co-workers. But otherwise, personal religious expression must be accommodated by employers.

  2. Private employers are also free to celebrate Christmas.

    You may be familiar with legal controversies over Christmas displays. In their grinchier moments, the Supreme Court has held that nativity scenes in courthouses, for example, violate the “separation of Church and State.” I’m sure the American founders, who were generally very religious, would be shocked at this interpretation of their First Amendment!

    Regardless, the First Amendment Establishment Clause – stating “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”  only applies to government entities. Private employers can celebrate Christmas as they see fit. Caroling and Christmas trees are all fair game. Again, participation in Christmas activities should always be voluntary – you should not force an employee to say “Merry Christmas” if it makes them uncomfortable. Nonetheless, private employers can and should exercise their freedom to spread cheer this season.
    Charlie Brown ChristmasCharlie Brown Christmas
  3. Christmas is awesome!

    In case you haven’t watched Charlie Brown Christmas lately, Christmas brings tidings of great joy for all people. The great God of the universe became a tiny baby. This baby grew up to defeat sin and death, opening the way for us to live in God’s presence.

    Christmas is worthy of celebration, so let’s celebrate!

Merry Christmas to all,

Laura, the Labor Lawyer 

Please note that this post does not constitute legal advice on your specific situation, and you do not have an attorney-client relationship with Laura. If you have questions for Laura, please send to Such questions may be used for general edification in this column.