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Employer-Sponsored Holiday Parties

November 27, 2012

Holiday parties and related-activities are just around the corner. Understanding how busy you are with other “year-end” corporate tasks, below are some helpful reminders to reduce your company’s potential liability related to holiday parties and other traditional year-end holiday activities.

  • Holiday Party: Attendance cannot be mandatory at any holiday party or function. If an RSVP is necessary, the response should be to an administrative-level employee, not through a publicly visible sign-up sheet.
     
  • Donations: Employers cannot require donations or contributions for holiday gift-giving or festivities. If you are having a voluntary gift contribution, do not publicize the list of donors or amounts donated by individuals.
     
  • Gift Exchanges: Employers cannot mandate participation in gift exchanges.
     
  • Holiday Cards: Company holiday cards should be generic.
     
  • Insurance Coverage: Check your insurance policy to be sure that your workers’ compensation or comprehensive general liability policy covers liabilities arising from office parties held on or off premises.
     
  • Remind Employees of Expected Behavior: Consider circulating your policies regarding substance abuse, proper etiquette, and harassment well in advance of the party to remind employees of your expectations and their obligations.
     
  • Providing Food: Also consider hiring a licensed caterer. If you use an unlicensed caterer and a guest becomes ill after eating the food, you may be liable. Licensed caterers are also insured.
     
  • Have FUN!

If you have any questions regarding this topic, please contact one of Honigman’s Labor and Employment attorneys listed here.