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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

What's in this punch?

The holiday season is upon us. Many employers are planning office parties or allowing employees to plan parties. You’ve heard the stories of bars being liable for their patrons after they leave the establishment or parents who have allowed parties to take place at their homes. These same liabilities are being applied to employers who serve alcohol at office parties.

A California Appellate court ruled in August of 2013 that the employer was liable when an employee caused a fatal accident after becoming intoxicated at the employer sponsored party. The ruling was based on vicarious liability and the employer’s responsibility for their employee’s actions. Not all courts may rule the same in all situations, but the precedent has been set. Why take the chance with your livelihood.

The possibility of legal action should not dampen the festivities or cause employers to cancel parties. Employers have to be aware of the issues and plan accordingly. A little preparation and foresight now may save a lot of money and heartache later.


If you are having a party, consider the need to serve alcohol. If alcohol is served manage the consumption and arrange for rides for those who do consume. Every effort you make will help later if you were to be sued.