As you prep for your work holiday party, check your list twice to ensure that you take steps to limit your liability for lawsuits. While limiting legal liability is hardly most people’s idea of yuletide joy, the reality is that the annual employee holiday party could be a legal disaster waiting to happen – and a lawsuit is no one’s idea of a fun holiday activity.
Here are some key points to keep in mind as you put the finishing touches on your party:
1. Prevent sexual harassment – don’t hang mistletoe
2. Encourage employees to bring their significant others – they might be less likely to engage in offensive behavior.
3. Understand potential liabilities associated with alcohol consumption at employer-sponsored events. These may vary in different jurisdictions.
4. Hold the event at a restaurant or other off-site location.
5. To avoid over-serving guests, limit the amount of alcohol that will be served and hire a professional bartender or caterer for on-site events who can identify intoxicated individuals.
6. Employers should consider providing transportation for employees leaving employer-sponsored events at which alcohol is served.
7. Encourage employees to look out for intoxicated co-workers.
8. Minimize the risk of workers’ compensation liability by letting the employees know that there is no business purpose for the event and attendance is not mandatory.
9. Prevent wage and hour claims by non-exempt employees by making attendance voluntary, holding the event outside normal business hours and refraining from engaging in business during the event.
These are just a few helpful suggestions for hosting a lawsuit-free holiday party. ‘Tis the season to have fun and not be sued. Please have a safe and fun time with friends and colleagues this holiday season. Happy Holidays!