It’s Office Holiday Party Time! Don’t Let Your Celebration Lead to Litigation

It’s Office Holiday Party Time! Don’t Let Your Celebration Lead to Litigation

Holiday celebrations provide an excellent opportunity for coworkers and management to mingle and interact with one another. They can create a positive work environment, increase employee morale and promote teamwork. They can also expose employers to potential liability if something goes wrong.

Holiday parties often involve alcohol, which can lead to lines being crossed. Off-color comments, racy jokes or inappropriate flirty behavior may lead to claims of unlawful discrimination or harassment. Alcohol-related car accidents caused by those attending the party may lead to claims of negligence.

To reduce these risks, employers can:

  • Appoint monitors to watch alcohol service and consumption.
  • Limit alcohol service with “drink coupons” (i.e., two drinks per person).
  • Close the bar once dinner begins.
  • Use professional bartenders.
  • Offer plenty of non-alcoholic beverage options.
  • Serve foods rich in starch and protein that stay in the stomach longer and slow the absorption of alcohol in the bloodstream.
  • Provide designated drivers, taxis or Ubers for anyone who is too impaired to drive.
  • Prior to the party, make it clear to employees that a) employees who arrive intoxicated will not be allowed in; b) employees are not permitted to bring their own alcohol; c) excessive drinking will not be tolerated; and d) intoxication and inappropriate behavior at the party will be grounds for discipline.

To reduce the likelihood of a workers’ compensation claim, attendance should not be mandatory or perceived as being mandatory. Tell employees the holiday party is purely a voluntary social event, and mean it. Employers should also consider a Special Events insurance policy with liability coverage, including host liquor liability coverage, to protect against bodily injury or property damage suffered during the event.

Please contact us if you would like to learn more about protecting your holiday party with Special Events Insurance.