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The keys to a respectful and enjoyable work holiday party

Recently, we discussed several ways that employers and workers can prepare for the holiday season. Workplaces often face unique challenges at this time of year, so it is important to prepare for these challenges in ways that protect employers and workers alike from an unsafe work environment and unnecessary litigation.

One of the most common holiday-related challenges that employers and workers tend to face may surprise you. Many companies throw holiday parties for their employees at the end of the year. These parties can be highly enjoyable and cause for celebration. However, if they are not planned carefully, they can inspire improper behaviors and can lead to sexual harassment lawsuits.

When either planning a work-related holiday party or planning to attend one, perhaps the most important thing you need to keep in mind is the effects of alcohol consumption. When some individuals drink, they go from well-meaning and well-mannered people to potential hazards. Employers should think strongly about creating a drinking policy for the party. Keeping alcohol consumption to a reasonable level and setting expectations for those who violate the policy are good places to start. In addition, workers should generally keep their alcohol consumption at the party to a minimum.

If employers and workers alike do not think ahead about alcohol consumption, sexual harassment suits, drunk driving accidents, underage drinking incidents and slip-and-fall accidents can occur with startling speed. In order to host or attend a respectful and enjoyable work party, it is important to treat alcohol consumption with forethought and respect.

Source: Property Casualty 360, “It's holiday party time: Plan ahead to minimize employer liability,” Rosalie L. Donlon, Nov. 13, 2014

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