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Don’t let your office party turn into a liability issue

On Behalf of | Nov 28, 2021 | business litigation |

Many businesses are having holiday parties for the first time in a couple of years. Whether your party is held on company property or at an outside venue, it’s crucial to remember that your business may still have liability if anything goes wrong.

Long gone are the days of raucous events where anything and everything could happen. All employees have a right to feel welcome and safe, just as they do at work. With that in mind, let’s look at a few things businesses can do to prevent liability, discrimination charges and other serious problems.

Make the party inclusive

Most businesses no longer throw “Christmas parties.” By calling it a “holiday party” or an “end-of-year” party, you can help include those who do not celebrate Christmas. If you’re letting employees bring a “plus one,” be sure they feel free to bring a same-sex partner or spouse or even a family member or friend.

Set behavioral expectations

Before the party, send out a reminder that certain behavior won’t be tolerated at the party. That includes sexual (or any kind of) harassment. You may want to have a “no social media” policy for the event, asking employees not to post any photos or videos online that could show the company in an unprofessional light. Leave that to whoever handles marketing or social media to do afterward.

Limit free alcohol

Check if your insurance company covers alcohol-related incidents. Even if allowed, don’t provide unlimited free alcoholic drinks. Giving everyone a couple of free drink tickets (and not allowing anyone to “share” theirs) can help prevent alcohol-fueled bad behavior. Have plenty of complimentary non-alcoholic beverages as well as food and snacks. It’s best to stop serving alcohol at least an hour before the party ends.

Keep a watchful eye

You and your management team have a responsibility to make sure no one is behaving inappropriately or dangerously or leaving the party intoxicated. The last could land you in serious legal jeopardy if someone gets into a crash.

If you have any questions or concerns as you plan the party or if any issues arise out of it, it’s wise to seek experienced legal guidance.