Legal News

‘Tis the season to limit your potential liability

The holidays are here and with them come celebrations that often include consumption of alcoholic drinks and, as of last year, other legal intoxicating substances. Employers should be aware that they may be held liable if an employee becomes intoxicated during an office party and sustains injuries or causes injury to others, even if such harm occurs after leaving the party. An intoxicated employee’s behavior may also give rise to complaints of harassment by colleagues and others at the event.

Here are a few tips to limit your potential liability:

  • Before and during the event, inform attendees that they should not drive after the event if they drink alcohol or consume cannabis. Ideally you will have a policy regarding a substance use during sponsored social events. If you have such a policy remind your employees of its requirements.
  • Ensure that all attendees are provided with a means of returning home safely such as providing taxi chits, reimbursing the cost of alternative transportation or providing hotel rooms for the night near where the event is being held.
  • Take steps to regulate alcohol consumption.
    • Consider hosting an alcohol free event;
    • If alcohol will be provided, use professionally staffed bars with servers who are trained to monitor and regulate alcohol consumption;
    • Limit the number of drinks each person is able to obtain by for example, using limited drink tickets instead of an open bar; and
    • Ensure non-alcoholic beverages and food are available.
  • Monitor the event to ensure intoxicated employees do not drive.
  • Remind employees that all policies, including harassment-free and bullying-free workplace policies, continue to apply at holiday parties.

We wish you and your employees a safe holiday season.

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