Do Christmas Trees Belong in the Workplace?

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The first edition of The Atlantic's new column about work and the economy that begins with you.

615 christmas tree Dmitriy Shironosov  shutterstock.jpgDmitriy Shironosov /Shutterstock

December brings a crush of holiday parties at work and Christmas decorations at home. But sometimes, office spaces and Christmas wreaths mix. Should Christmas/Holiday trees be allowed in the workplace?

That's our question for you. It's also the the first question in my new biweekly feature, Working It Out: Your answers and mine to questions about your job and our economy.

Here's how it works. Every other week, I'll pose a controversial question about work. Then it's your turn to offer your take. Write in the comment section or use our survey embed below. We'll be reading, and we'll publish the most trenchant (or amusing) responses over the next week. The following Monday, I'll write a column considering your comments along with my own thinking. The next week, we'll do it all over again.

We're hoping to pioneer a new kind of workplace column. You can read pundits about applying for jobs, being a boss, spotting talent, or handling workplace etiquette on just about any business site. This is different. Here, you get to play the role of pundit first.

Back to the Office Christmas Tree. Here are some thoughts to get your sap flowing:

 -- Has The Tree become such a secular symbol that a reasonable person shouldn't take offense?
 -- Should a workplace's majority rule or is it safer to topple The Tree to avoid offending anyone?
 -- Does adding a Jewish star atop the tree and Kwanzaa's seven symbols under The Tree tip the scales?
 -- Does even a "Holiday" Tree pose too great a risk of a civil rights lawsuit claiming an environment hostile to non-Christians?
-- Should people just lighten up? After all, it's just a tree, not a papal procession.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for writing.

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Marty Nemko holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley specializing in the evaluation of innovation. His columns have appeared in the Washington Post and San Francisco Chronicle, and his sixth book, just published, is How to Do Life: What They Didn't Teach You in School. More

Marty Nemko was called "The Bay Area's Best Career Coach" by the San Francisco Bay Guardian. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley and subsequently taught in its graduate school. His columns and features have appeared in U.S. News, the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and San Francisco Chronicle. The archive of his hundreds of published articles, his blog, plus chapters from his book, Cool Careers for Dummies, plus mp3s of his KALW-FM (NPR-San Francisco) show are on www.martynemko.com.
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