“Tips to avoid lawsuits from holiday office parties”

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From The Boston Globe:

Holiday office parties can be a potential minefield for lawsuits so the international law firm Bryan Cave LLP is offering some helpful hints to employers who want to celebrate the season without ending up in litigation.

Herewith are some of Bryan Cave’s tips:

Avoid salty foods such as chicken wings because they may result in excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages.

Consider having adequate security.

Make employee attendance voluntary.

Check relevant insurance policies for possible coverage.

Set the tone with a series of pre-party memos. Memos should note that the party is a business-related function, and they should also remind everyone of the company’s anti-harrassment policies. Pre-party memos should suggest that everyone should give gag gifts and provocative decorations a good leaving-alone.

If party plans call for music, tell the band or DJ, “No slow dances.”

And after the party, investigate all harrassment complaints.

Via Lisa Fairfax at The Conglomerate.   She didn’t mention whether the U of Maryland School of Law “sets the tone with with a series of pre-party memos” in advance of holiday social gatherings but I’m thinking this would be a terrific innovation here at the University of South Carolina, where in addition to informal gatherings both our clinicians and our law librarians host separate holiday soirees right on the premises and well, you know how clinicians and law librarians are – “check relevant insurance policies for possible coverage” indeed.   Here are some things I’d add to the Bryan Cave admonitions:

1. No picking the french fried onions off the top of the green bean casserole.

2. No asking faculty members who cuss, “Would you kiss your Mama with that mouth?” We might have a perfectly good reason for deploying the eff word.

3. No use of electronic equipment capable of producing YouTube videos if there is going to be karaoke, dancing or competitive eating.

–Ann Bartow

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0 Responses to “Tips to avoid lawsuits from holiday office parties”

  1. ssladler says:

    I think we should cancel Christmas after that Carolina/Clemson debacle on Saturday night.

  2. Ann Bartow says:

    Oy, that was painful. But I think both Gamecock basketball teams are going to be fun to watch this year. so all is not lost!

  3. Ralph M. Stein says:

    Pre-holiday forced good cheer. Bah humbug!

    But in the spirit:

    1) No mistletoe on company (school) property.
    2) Half-prize chocolate hanukah “gelt” is available since that holiday comes early this year. Have a lot to show respect for diversity.
    3) Wish everyone a “Happy Kwanzaa.” Don’t assume what holidays people celebrate by the color of their skin.
    4) Have a limitless supply of the only true ambrosia, Diet Coke.
    5) Slow dances are fine-do you realize how many faculty vacancies can be created by fast ones?
    6) Have a pre-recorded tape to play with carols of faculty members reading footnotes from their latest articles.