Limit Your Holiday Party Risks

By Styskal, Wiese & Melchione

As the holiday party season approaches, financial institutions should remain aware of some of the issues that can turn a festive, morale-boosting event into a potential liability. Some states’ liquor liability laws make it possible for a plaintiff to hold social hosts responsible for damage or injury caused by the intoxicated guest. Beyond that, relaxed atmospheres and consumption of alcohol can often lead to sexual harassment or claims of other inappropriate behavior. If your financial institution will be hosting an event with alcohol, consider limiting the number of free drinks that will be provided, using professional bartenders who are trained not to overserve, including food on the menu, closing the bar early, and/or providing transportation options (like cab fare or vouchers), among other risk mitigation measures. Before the event, it may also be prudent to ensure that your anti-harassment policy or code of conduct includes expectations for employer-sponsored social functions, and to determine whether your employment practices liability coverage includes third-party coverage (for claims made by non-employees).

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