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Office Holiday Parties Shouldn't Get You Sued

By Deanne Katz, Esq. | Last updated on

Throwing an office holiday party is a great way to show your employees how much you appreciate them, but don't forget that you're still the boss.

That doesn't mean you can't relax and have a good time with your workers. But it does mean that if anything goes wrong, it's on your head. So some pre-holiday party preparation is necessary.

There are several things that can ruin your company holiday party. But below you'll find ways to avoid the more common problems:

  • Limit alcohol. Nothing makes a party awkward and potentially litigious faster than coworkers getting sloppy drunk. To avoid that, give out a limited number of drink tickets or provide a cash bar if you have alcohol. Consider having a licensed third party serve the drinks so you don't have to.

  • Don't allow drunken driving. If employees drive to the party, then you need to make sure no one drives away drunk. It might be worth setting aside some money for taxi rides after the event so that everyone gets home safe. Otherwise you may be the one liable for any accidents.

  • Make sure the venue is accessible. This is still a work event, which means you need to accommodate any employees with disabilities. Make sure the venue is comfortable for everyone and accessible to all your workers, even if that means decorating the office so you can be sure the party is ADA compliant.

  • Ignore religion. The holiday season has become largely separate from religion, and that's a good thing for office holiday parties. Make sure you're clear that it's a holiday party and all of your employees are welcome regardless of their religions of lack thereof.

  • Address conduct issues immediately. If someone is acting inappropriately, nip it in the bud right away. Don't let it get out of control and cause a serious problem that the employee can't take back.

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