In this season of office parties, employers are reminded that legally, they may be held liable for damages if employees who are intoxicated following an employer-sponsored event, injure themselves or others.
In any setting where alcohol will be served, employers should take the following steps to ensure the safety of their employees and to avoid liability should an employee be injured or cause injury to another while impaired:
- avoid an “open bar” during employer-sponsored events
- assume that employees will consume alcoholic beverages and respond on that basis
- monitor the alcohol consumption of employees
- take reasonable steps to prevent employees from driving when an employee is or may be impaired by alcohol
- provide taxi vouchers (or other transportation options) to employees where alcohol is served by the employer
- if alternative transportation cannot be arranged, an employer should consider appointing designated drivers for employees or arranging alternate accommodations so that employees do not have to drive
These simple measures may not only keep employees safe, but also may absolve an employer of liability should an employee be involved in an accident following an office party or other employer-sponsored function where alcohol was served and consumed.