Office Christmas Parties: Tis The Season to be Cautious

Office PartyIt’s the time of year when companies large and small hold their annual holiday party.  Good cheer abounds, and in many cases, liquor flows.   You raise your glass in a toast, and thank everyone for their loyalty and support.  As the party continues, drink by drink, your employees and coworkers start to lose their inhibitions.  It’s a great party, but as the old saying goes, it’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye, and that’s what you, as a business owner, should be concerned about.

After the party, when everyone returns to the office with a clear head, you may face some serious problems.  Fred from accounting went a bit too far under the mistletoe, and groped Sheila over in sales.  Someone from the loading dock threw a co-worker through a plate glass window, and, worse still, your sales manager doesn’t show up, because he drove himself home after 8 beers and was involved in a serious accident.   This does not bode well for the new year.

Not surprisingly, the best way to avoid all this is to throw a dry party, but what fun is that?  If you’re determined to serve alcohol, consider taking a few of the following steps to reduce your legal liability.

1.  Make your party a company lunch, and hold it in the middle of the week.  If you serve alcohol, your employees will be far less likely to overindulge, especially if they have to go to work the next morning.

2.   Make certain each employee can bring a spouse or a significant other.  One can serve as a designated driver, and this also will help avoid any unwanted advances.

3.   Avoid serving mixed drinks.  Keep it wine and beer only.

4.   If your party is at the office or your home, hire a catering service with professional bartenders.  That provides another level of protection, as they’re most likely trained to stop serving anyone who’s clearly intoxicated.  The caterer may also be insured.

5.  Consider asking for volunteers to serve as designated drivers, or arrange for a taxi service.

6.  Think twice about the mistletoe.  Remember Fred from accounting?

Author: Seth Heyman
Seth D. Heyman is a California attorney with extensive experience in advertising and marketing law, corporate law, contracts, governmental regulations, international business, and Internet law. He has counseled numerous successful companies, both public and private, and was responsible for regulatory compliance, contract management, corporate governance, and HR best practices for multiple organizations in many diverse industries, including marketing, telecommunications, energy, and technology development. He offers insight and guidance on federal and state direct mail, TV, radio, telemarketing, and Internet marketing laws, as well as online promotions, Internet privacy, data protection regulations, and similar matters.

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