Holiday parties are a great time for co-workers to let their hair down and enjoy each other’s company in an environment more casual than the office or job site. Offering employees food and drinks is also a common way for Pennsylvania business owners and managers to show their appreciation to employees who have worked hard all year. However, office parties can also open a company to premises liability lawsuits if certain precautions are not taken.
Alcohol is often the main catalyst for accidents or other mishaps. People who over-indulge at parties may be vulnerable to tripping and falling, and some may exhibit behavior that puts other guests at risk. If a party offers no other diversion than standing around drinking, the chances are good that someone will over imbibe. A responsible host will have ways to mitigate alcohol problems, such as having a bartender, limiting the number of drinks per guest or simply assigning someone to enforce a professional code of conduct.
Most professional of all should be the host of the party. If he or she sets an example of drinking to excess or pressures others into heavy drinking, it may increase the host’s liability if an accident should happen, either at the party or on the way home. If alcohol is served freely, the host can provide transportation to reduce the possibility of guests being involved in accidents.
An employer who makes an office party mandatory or who harasses those who decline the invitation is likely to be more vulnerable to premises liability complaints. If a person’s injury is related to a party he or she was obligated to attend, it may go badly for the person who issued the invitation. While office parties in Pennsylvania can be times of memorable fun that solidify friendships in the workplace, both the hosts and attendees would benefit from staying alert and sober.
This blog entry was posted on behalf of Hof & Reid LLC, and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the firm or its attorneys. The information presented in this blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice.
Source: diagnosticimaging.com, “Avoiding Liability at Your Practice for Holiday Party Fouls“, Ike Devji, Nov. 22, 2016