Around the holiday season, a lot of employers want to celebrate in some form and fashion with their employees. Most employers don’t realize their potential liability. Potential liability is almost always there, but some simple recommendations can go along with in limiting their liability including:
- Employers should consider hosting a holiday event outside of the traditional holiday party. A growing trend among many companies is to host corporate luncheons or volunteer events that benefit non-profit organizations. These alternatives can reduce the employer’s potential liability with regard to alcohol-related incidents and harassment complaints.
- Likewise, instead of an employee holiday gift exchange, employers can sponsor a fundraising event for a local charity. Doing so decreases the potential for sexual harassment complaints associated with office gift exchanges. In addition, employers should avoid games, decorations, or other sexually charged traditions that could expose the company to liability.
- As another option to help avoid incidents of sexual harassment, employers may want to consider hosting a holiday party that allows employees to invite their significant other, a plus one, or even children.
- When planning holiday gatherings, employers should select a name for the event that is non-religious to avoid complaints of religious discrimination. Employers should also inform employees that participation in holiday gatherings, be it a corporate party or volunteer event, is voluntary.
- When planning holiday soirees, employers should ensure that employees and guests do not consume excessive amounts of alcohol. Thus, it is strongly recommended that employers supply guests with drink tickets (generally two tickets are standard) or have a cash bar. Likewise, employers are strongly recommended to do the following: (1) close the bar one hour prior to the end of the event, (2) designate supervisors who will not drink at the event to monitor alcohol consumption of employees and guests, (3) and have a system in place to get intoxicated employees and guest(s) home safely, i.e., Uber, Lyft, or other local transportation options.
- Prior to the corporate holiday event, employers should review their policies and procedures regarding discrimination and harassment and remind employees, through a memorandum, that all company policies will be in effect during the holiday party.
If you need any assistance or have any questions, please contact you HR Ideas Representative.