|| Print ||
|Thursday, December 19, 2013|
BY BRANDY CODY | GUEST BLOGGER
With the holidays in full swing, many companies are electing to celebrate with their employees by throwing holiday parties. There is always some degree of risk associated with any company-sponsored function. Serving alcohol at events increases that risk. Alcohol decreases our inhibitions, but also increases the likelihood of excessive drinking, flirtatious behavior, inappropriate remarks and even physical altercations. An employer can reduce potential liability by adhering to some simple recommendations.
• Take alcohol out of the equation, or at least limit it. You can control the environment by offering a catered lunch at your office, sans alcohol. If dinner out is more desirable, consider limiting alcohol choices to a few select beers and wines. Be sure to include several non-alcoholic options. If you are inclined to offer alcohol, opt for a “cash bar” or consider using a “drink ticket” system to limit the number of drinks offered to each guest. Hire a professional bartender, who will not only check ID, but will be able to objectively assess whether anyone has reached their limit for the evening. Close the bar at a pre-determined time (at least an hour in advance of the party’s conclusion) and switch the offerings to coffee, tea and soft drinks. Finally, host the party on a work night, when most people are less likely to overindulge.
• Make it a family affair. When employees are able to bring their partners and/or children, they tend to exhibit better behavior and judgment. It also adds another resource to ensure people get home safely.
• Use your eyes and ears. Advise supervisors and managers that they are considered “on-duty” at the party. Remind them that they are to lead by example. Ask them to keep an eye on their subordinate employees to ensure they are not drinking excessively. Designate a “go-to” person to be a resource and problem solver in the event an issue comes up at the party.
• The rules are still the rules. Remind all employees that, while you want them to enjoy themselves at the party, they are still obligated to adhere to the company’s code of conduct standards and otherwise comply with the policies against harassment, retaliation and other workplace rules regarding behavior. If necessary, advise them that misconduct at the holiday party can still result in disciplinary action. Consider re-circulating the policies against harassment and codes of conduct in advance of the party.
• Arrange for transportation. Arrange for designated drivers, taxis or a shuttle service to ensure your employees are delivered safely to their homes, at no cost to them. If you have an obviously intoxicated employee, consider securing him/her a hotel room for the evening.
• Distract them. Make sure you offer plenty of food options, entertainment and other activities that do not involve alcohol, to prevent drinking from becoming the primary focus of the party.
• No mistletoe. For obvious reasons, encouraging kissing at a work event is just a bad idea.
While it is difficult to completely eliminate all risk arising from an office party, you can greatly reduce that risk with good planning that helps ensure your employees have a safe and fun holiday.
Brandy Cody is a partner in the Portland office of Fisher & Phillips. She represents employers in all aspects of employment law and litigation, including wrongful termination, harassment, discrimination, contract disputes and all types of wage and hour claims.
|The Private 150: Bigger But Leaner|
|The Perfect Food|
|Powerlist: Staffing Firms|
|Taxis Uber Alles?|
|FBI investigates JPMorgan 'cyber-attack'|
|GoPro launches camera dog harnesses|
|Snapchat now worth $10B|
|Tomatoes may lower prostate cancer risk|
|WHO: Ban e-cigarette use indoors|
|Burger King to acquire Tim Hortons for $11.5B|
|Burger King in talks to buy Tim Hortons|
Vigilant enters a New Year with a new president.
How George Fox has become one of Oregon's largest private universities.
Forest Grove sees growth in the burgeoning food and beverage scene.
Lane Powell Shareholder William T. Patton has been appointed to the board of directors for Cascade AIDS Project, an organization that provides educational services and outreach to thousands of Oregonians living with HIV/AIDS.
Fifty-one Lane Powell lawyers were recently selected by their peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® (Best Lawyers) 2015; of those selected, 23 lawyers are from the Firm’s office in Portland, Oregon.
Barran Liebman is proud to announce that Andrew Schpak, a Partner of the firm, has been named Chair of the American Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division for the 2014-2015 bar year.