Christmas party liability: what you should know

The season of holiday parties is upon us. And if you’re hosting the festivities, there’s one important thing to keep in mind.

“The big concern is drinking and driving,” said John Philp of Preszler Law.

Both employers and those hosting private parties at home could be held liable if a guest leaves your event and drives impaired.

“As a homeowner you have to ensure that if your friends are coming over and having some cocktails … that people aren’t drinking and driving,” Philp said.

“You can’t [spend] six hours with a person and say, ‘Well I didn’t know they were drunk.'”

Employers are usually held to an even higher standard.

“If you’re letting your employee leave without, for example, providing taxi chits or making sure people have a way to get home if they’re intoxicated — and those people cause injury to someone else – not only would you potentially be responsible for the person that is injured, but potentially the employee’s injuries as well. Because you facilitated that person’s alcohol consumption.”

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In the case of a house party, if your event is BYOB that might change liability slightly in the eyes on the law, according to Philp.

The venue of a work party can also make a difference.

“Taking the party to a bar or restaurant – the bar has a liability,” Philp said.

READ MORE: 5 tips for networking at Christmas parties

But he added that the employer will still have some responsibility to ensure their staff is safe.

Another issue to watch out for, especially if the liquor is flowing: sexual harassment.

You can read more about the liability issues surrounding that here.

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