Avoiding an employer liability claim from an office party

On Behalf of Dunlap Fiore, LLC |

Even though the holidays have come to an end, this does not put an end to office parties in Louisiana and other states across the nation. When an office party or holiday celebration is going to occur at the office or at another location, it is important that employers take certain steps to protect from lawsuits such as employment litigation stemming from alcohol consumption at a work party.

In order to avoid an employer liability claim, employers should consider these nine helpful ways to avoid employer liability at an office party, especially when over half of these celebrations or gatherings include alcohol consumption. And while offering alcoholic beverages at an office party is not uncommon, it is important to regulate drinking. This is often accomplished through drink tickets. This method is an effective way to keep employees from drinking too much.

Another way is to address the concern beforehand by setting expectations of good behaviors. This could be completed via an office memo, email or meeting. This not only encourages professionalism but also helps to reduce sexual harassment complaints.

Other ways to address drinking at an office party include not offering hard liquor, not making alcohol consumption the main event, make employees pay for their alcohol and serve several alcohol alternatives so employees have numerous drinking options. And while these steps could help regulate alcohol consumption, employers could also consider options such as allowing employees to invite the family, strategically pick a time and day that would promote less or no drinking and possibly just forgoing alcohol entirely at the office party.

When an office party is being planned, it is important that the issue of employer liability is addressed. When too much alcohol is consumed at an office party, employees might be compelled to file a claim for actions such as sexual harassment. By taking the initiative to address this beforehand, employers could take necessary steps to protect themselves from employment litigation.

Source: Business Insider, “Your bosses don’t want you getting drunk at the holiday party – here’s how they plan to stop you,” Rachel Gillett, Dec. 17, 2015