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Gary Alexander, Senior Attorney
Holiday Party Avoid Litigation
Alexander & Cleaver, PA

Holiday Party Avoid Litigation

The holidays are right around the corner, and with them come the anticipation of attending company holiday parties, which in many cases are fancy affairs. Companies often spare no expense to ensure their employees have a nice time and this can include providing an open bar for alcohol consumption.
The decision to serve alcohol can become costly. In many states, employers may be held liable if an employee consumes alcohol at a company party and then causes an injury. Since this can lead to costly litigation for your company, it is prudent to carefully plan your events. Here are a few tips to help reduce your companys liability if alcohol is served
Make the party a social event with no business being conducted.
Communicate in advance that excessive alcohol consumption will not be tolerated.
Place a time limit on the open bar and limit the number of alcoholic drinks served to each attendee.
Consider having a cash bar only.
Have plenty of non-alcoholic choices for attendees with plenty of food.
Have pre-arranged transportation or designated drivers available.
Hold your party in a hotel with discount rooms available to attendees.
Have a procedure in place to monitor drinking.
Hold the party at an off-site location easily accessible by public transportation.
There is no hard and fast rule that companies must hold traditional holiday parties with alcohol. There are alternatives, such as company sponsored trips to a museum, theater or event. These suggestions may not sound as exciting as a traditional party with dancing and drinking, however, they sound a whole lot better when you factor in the possibility of your company becoming mired in an expensive, contentious and publicized lawsuit because an intoxicated attendee injures someone after your exciting party.
There are ways to make this a safe, happy and non-litigious holiday season. Check with your attorney concerning your exposure for any company-related events based on state law and then plan accordingly. Furthermore, you should talk to your insurance company about obtaining liability insurance to cover your party.

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