Up to 36 percent of employers report employee misconduct during workplace holiday parties including sexual harassment, improper language and arguments, and even sexual harassment. Because this is still a work related event, employers may be liable for their employees’ actions.
We have put together a list of things your team can do to avoid legal trouble resulting from your company holiday party.
Monitor Alcohol Intake
Make sure the booze is not flowing non-stop. Open bars are not a good idea at holiday parties. Provide food so employees are not consuming alcohol on empty stomachs. Drink tickets or closing the bar early are two ways companies monitor alcohol intake. Inviting spouses or other family members may help employees control their intake. Consider holding a lunch party for the office, forgoing the alcohol.
Provide Transportation Home
Cab rides, designated drivers or holding the party in a hotel where employees can spend the night can all avoid DUI’s or worse, an accident caused by a DUI. If an employee was to hurt or kill themselves or another person in an accident, your company would be facing a negligence lawsuit.
Don’t Make It Mandatory
Respect everybody’s religious beliefs concerning parties, especially when liquor’s being served. Also, keep in mind the wage-and-hour implications of asking non-exempt workers to help decorate and set up the party location.
Remind Employees of Expectations & Policies
Remind employees that although you want everyone to have a great time, they must still follow your company policies at the party. Remind employees of your company harassment policies. The last thing you will want is a harassment issue stemming from someone possibly over-drinking and forgetting the policies.
It’s also a good idea to remind managers that they are “on duty” at the party and should be keeping an eye on subordinates.
It is a Holiday Party, so be sure to call it exactly that. Don’t offend any employees who may have different holiday traditions from the usual “Christmas” traditions.