Company holiday parties can be a great way to boost morale and celebrate the year’s successes, but they may also give way to a number of legal pitfalls for the unwary employer. On Monday, December 5, Partner Rose Kenyon sat down with WRAL’s Fox 50 morning show to discuss ways employers can host a fun and safe party while avoiding potential legal consequences.
“This time of year, so many employers are having holiday parties and most of them will serve alcohol,” Rose said. “Employers could be liable if somebody is over served or leaves the party intoxicated and has an accident.”
Rose recommends that employers set expectations in advance of the party to ensure their employees understand that they should behave properly and drink responsibly. Further, parties should be organized to limit and control alcohol consumption. “Hire a professional bartender who is experienced with identifying intoxication and make sure alcohol is not served openly, giving employees constant access,” Rose said.
When asked about what to look out for at the end of the party, Rose reminds employers to keep an eye on their guests and their behavior. Consider setting up an Uber account in advance or providing a taxi service to make sure everyone gets home safely.
Speaking of behavior, Rose also cautions employers that people may say or do things that are inappropriate while consuming alcohol and raise concerns about harassment. “Make sure that managers and supervisors are providing a good example, and avoid games that may provoke inappropriate comments,” she said. “Most importantly, if you see or hear about something, make sure to address it as soon as possible.”
Rose is an employment and labor lawyer, who represents companies of all sizes in a wide variety of industries. She regularly works with employers to develop practices and policies to limit risk and liability and to comply with the ever expanding spectrum of laws that apply to the workplace. Rose also works with companies on employment matters in mergers and acquisitions, and represents executives with their employment agreements.