The holiday season provides opportunities for celebration, both at home and at work. With it comes an increase in traffic and, unfortunately, also an increase in collisions involving alcohol-impaired drivers.
Employers have no power or obligation to promote safety in the personal lives of their employees. However, under certain circumstances they may be liable for their employee’s conduct if they fail to take reasonable measures to ensure safe and responsible consumption of alcohol at business associated events. For example, if an employee attends an obligatory business function where the employer provided an open bar, the employer may subsequently be responsible for harms the intoxicated employee caused while later operating that vehicle.
The concept of using “good judgment” while alcohol-impaired is an oxymoron. By definition, alcohol consumption impairs judgment. This does not mean that employers need to prohibit alcohol at business events. Rather, a little preparation prior to the consumption can go a long way.
Offer to pay for your employee’s cab, Uber or Lyft fare. Even a $10 gift card goes a long way.
Choose properly licensed and insured off-site premises when possible. Restaurants not only have appropriate insurance, but their staff carries the burden of not over-serving guests.
Hire a bonded bartender or caterer for on-site events.
When appropriate, let your employees know in advance that alcoholic beverages will be available at the business function. Give employees the opportunity to plan a carpool or to pick a designated driver.
Encourage your employees to freely say so if they overindulged. If an employee is afraid of repercussions or judgment due to alcohol consumption they are less likely to ask for help and more likely to sneak behind the wheel.
Designate an employee to keep an eye out. Alternatively, if it is appropriate for your office culture, ask that all employees lookout for each other.
Have appropriate policies and procedures in place and make sure your employees know them.
Chose a location that is safe, convenient and does not increase the social pressure to consume alcohol. If your holiday party is a 5 hour outing at a brewery, odds are that even your non-drinkers will feel forced to “try a few beers.”
Limit the amount of alcohol that is being served. Drink tickets are a great way to make sure things do not get out of hand.
If possible, make sure that all employees know that they are not obligated to attend and that it is solely recreational and for no particular business purpose.
To learn more about how to keep your business off Santa’s naughty list during holiday gatherings, contact:
John Case, Personal Injury Attorney at Evans Case 303-757-8300 firstname.lastname@example.org