It’s that time of year again, folks — time for annual holiday parties. Corporate events can be a lot of fun, giving employees a chance to dress up and go out for a night, sharing laughs with colleagues and their partners. However, planning these events is no easy feat (trust us, we know all about that !). One thing few planners for company-sponsored events think about (but should) is liability the business is exposed to when offering alcoholic beverages. So today we are doing a throwback of sorts to a blog we featured earlier this year.
Are We Liable for an Employee’s Drunken Actions?
Not necessarily, but that certainly depends. Florida doesn’t have “Social Host Liability” so a business may not be automatically liable for actions and exposures because they hosted an event that served alcohol, like a car accident that same evening. However, some cases indicate there are definite exceptions, like if that employer knew the employee was intoxicated but allowed them to drive anyway. One way to protect yourself is with insurance, of course. Beyond that, we like to say there are some proactive steps you can take to take back control.
What Can We Do?
- Before the event, ask your employees to sign a Liability Waiver and Release Agreement, which we just so happen to offer in our online shop. (You’re welcome.)
- Set ground rules by informing employees the party is considered an extension of the workplace, so inappropriate conduct will still not be tolerated. And this especially applies to your sexual harassment policy.
- Post signage at the event that employees should drink responsibly and not drive when drunk.
- Offer non-alcoholic beverages, plenty of food, and even some activities to limit an employee’s interest in repeated drinking.
- Hire a bartender and ask them to avoid serving repeat drinkers.
- Limit drinks by issuing tickets or having a cash only bar.
- Don’t serve alcohol in the final hour of the party, instead offering only soft drinks and warm beverages.
- Consider pre-arranging alternate transportation for drunk employee’s and encourage employees to use of it.
- Designate a monitor to watch employees and remind them to limit their drinking, and offer ride services.
- Ensure management understands the rules and plays by them, there is nothing better than leading by example.
- Never serve alcohol to minors (i.e. interns, etc.).
Get Help From a Florida Human Resources and Employment Lawyer
Company-sponsored events can be fun, but risky, if not carefully thought out. Employers should be prepared to take serving alcohol seriously. If you have any specific questions or concerns about your next corporate event, contact an experienced Florida employment law attorney for immediate assistance.