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  • Writer's pictureJacqueline C. Hawkins, esq,

End-of-Year Holiday Parties and Vicarious Liability

As the holiday season comes into full force, companies are gearing up to show gratitude for their employees and spread some holiday cheer with various gatherings and extravagant parties.  While these events are a fantastic way to boost team moral, show appreciation and celebrate accomplishments, they also come with legal considerations, particularly when it comes to vicarious liability.


Vicarious liability refers to a situation where one party is held responsible for the actions of another.  In the context of company-hosted holiday parties, this principle holds significant weight.  If an employee engages in inappropriate behavior, causing harm or damage during or after the event, the company could be held accountable.


Alcohol often flows freely during these events, heightening the risk of accidents or misconduct.  Despite being off-site or after hours, if the event is company-sponsored and employees attend under the impression that it is work related the company could be liable for any ensuing mishaps.


To mitigate risks, companies should establish clear policies and effectively communicate expectations regarding behavior and alcohol consumption.  Implementing policies that outline the code of conduct during these events can help minimize potential liabilities. Additionally, providing safe transportation options or limiting the number of alcohol drinks per person can contribute to a safer environment.


In summary, while company hosted holiday parties are meant for enjoyment and camaraderie, they also necessitate careful consideration and planning by company leadership. By proactively addressing potential risks and setting clear expectations, companies can provide a safe celebration for all.


For help reviewing your company holiday plans, whether it be drafting or reviewing company policies or discussing other risk mitigation tactics, contact Executive Legal Services. We look forward to working with you this holiday season and beyond.

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