Avoiding the Holiday Party Lawsuit
The season of office holiday parties is upon us. For employees, the office holiday party is a time to let loose with their coworkers and spread some holiday cheer. For employers, it’s a different story. Sexual harassment allegations, assault claims and other related complaints are becoming unwanted presents for employers, post-party. The point of the office holiday party is to celebrate, relax and strengthen work relationships. After all, it’s “Tis the season to be jolly,” not “Tis the season to be sued!” Here are 3 tips you should seriously consider to protect your company and your employees.
- Regulate alcohol consumption. Most lawsuits that stem from the office holiday party are produced by excessive alcohol consumption. If you are going to serve alcohol, consider serving beer and wine only, or distribute drink tickets to limit employees’ alcohol consumption. Make sure to have plenty of food available at all times to ensure your employees are not drinking on an empty stomach.
- Offer a variety of transportation options. If you think reminding your employees not to drink and drive will get the job done, you’re mistaken. Provide alternative transportation options for all employees at the company’s expense, such as Uber or cab service. Inviting your employee’s spouses and partners to attend the party is another option, as it will create additional designated driver options for intoxicated employees. Having their significant other in attendance may also discourage them from consuming unsafe amounts of alcohol.
- Influence employee behavior, pre-party. Send multiple, company-wide emails to your employees pre-party, informing them that all company policies such as dress code and personal conduct will remain in effect during the party, and that punishment will be handed out if deemed necessary. It’s also important to remind your employees to respect the privacy wishes of those around them. Discourage picture taking, outside of large group photos. Once an image is posted online, it can never be truly deleted.
Office holiday parties are not a right; they are a gesture of gratitude from an employer to their employees. Make sure this holiday season the only suit you receive is one you can wear to work. Always confirm that your insurance policies cover your holiday party.
If you are concerned about your holiday party or want to ensure you’re covered when it comes to office rules of conduct, give us a call to schedule a consultation where we’d be happy to answer any of your employment related questions.