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About That Holiday Party...

By Robyn Hagan Cain on December 11, 2012 12:02 PM

Last week, "20/20" ran a special segment on dos and don'ts at the office holiday party, which included the advice, "Everyone wants the office party to be memorable. Nobody wants to be the reason it was."

In the age of YouTube, office party antics are easily memorialized for posterity ... and for lawsuits. But you don't have to take our word for it. Try searching for "drunk office party" on YouTube. Behold, the casualties.

An employer who hosts an epic holiday party could be liable for his employees' antics. Employees who behave badly at the office party could lose their jobs. And everyone could get sued.

Here are three simple steps can a company take to avoid a holiday party hangover:

  1. Don't Over-serve Guests. Some employees may be disappointed if you fail to foot the tab for an open bar, but your primary concern should be keeping your employees safe. Consider limiting guests' drinks with a ticketing system. You could also offer alcohol-free "mocktails" for your staff.
  2. Avoid Harassment Blunders. Anyone's who has seen "Love Actually" knows that post-party hookups happen. Before your office party, make sure that employees understand that company policies apply to off-site events. More importantly, don't put your employees in a situation that might make them feel uncomfortable. Avoid taking your employees to a strip club for the office party, and don't encourage questionable behavior if your employees start acting inappropriately.
  3. Keep it Secular. Employees of different faiths may feel uncomfortable attending a religious-themed party. Consider calling it a "holiday party" or an "end of the year party."

Here at FindLaw, we try to follow our own advice and have a nice, reasonable holiday party. Last year, we went out for an early dinner (complete with drink tickets). This year, we're going bowling.

Office parties are a great way for a company to reward employees' hard work. Just be sure that your party begins and ends on a positive note.

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