Minimizing Employer Liability Arising from Employer-Sponsored Holiday Parties

by Tim O’Hare

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Did you know your holiday work party comes with significant liability risk? Though typically a time of fun and celebration for both employers and employees, work-sponsored holiday parties have the potential to create legal liability for the employer.

Are you planning a corporate or work-sponsored holiday party? Use these tips to help minimize the risk of employer liability stemming from incidents including (but not limited to) alcohol related incidents, sexual harassment and Premises Liability.

  • Host the party at an off-site location. Location of your holiday party can significantly reduce your risk of employer liability. Hosting the party at a location other than the office protects employers’ property and assets and prevents unauthorized access to confidential information or hazardous equipment. It also protects you from Premises Liability due to an accident or injury occurring on your property.
  • Do not offer open bar or drink tickets to your guests. In Texas, the Dram Shop Act applies, and you want to eliminate your liability for any alcohol-related events. If your party is hosted at an off-site location, such as a restaurant, and guests purchase their own alcoholic beverages from the restaurant, according to the Dram Shop Act, liability falls on the restaurant. Prior to the party, it may also be helpful to remind employees that although the party is taking place outside of working hours, it is a company-sponsored event and guests should act responsibly.
  • Do not require attendance. Work-related holiday parties should never be mandated. By not requiring attendance, you are also minimizing workers’ compensation liability due to accidents or injuries that may occur at the event.
  • Encourage guests to invite spouses or significant others. Many incidents of sexual harassment would never have occurred if the instigator’s spouse or significant other were present.

The holidays should be a time of pleasure for employees and employers. Do not let fear of liability keep you from celebrating the holidays with your employees. Simply make considerations for potential liability and do as much as possible to reduce the risk of any accidents or incidents occurring that may lead to employer liability.

If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a drunk driving accident, there are multiple people who can be held accountable for your injury or loss. Contact the experienced legal team at The Law Offices of Tim O’Hare. We will help you receive all due compensation for your injury or loss.

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