According to a recent survey, the number one reason employers have their tinsel in a tangle about office holiday parties is how much they cost.[1] But the cost of tinsel and treats is nothing compared to the expense of defending an employment lawsuit. The best way to keep holiday parties within budget—and a business out of the courtroom—is to follow these steps to minimize liability.
Continue Reading I’m Dreaming of a Risk-Free Holiday—Tips for Reducing Holiday Party Employment Claims

With the end of the year upon us, office holiday parties are likely just around the corner… or you may be at one right now with a cup of mulled cider in hand!  While these events often provide great opportunities to build camaraderie among employees and boost office morale, they can also serve as potential sources of liability for festive-minded employers.  From an inappropriate comment, to an unwelcome sexual advance, to an alcohol-induced argument or accident, we have seen it all.  For example, in Purton v. Marriott International, Inc., 218 Cal.App.4th 499 (2013), the California Court of Appeal held that an employer could be liable for the harm caused by an employee who, after becoming intoxicated at a work-related holiday party, got into a motor-vehicle accident with a third party.  And, as the Seventh Circuit noted in Place v. Abbott Laboratories, 215 F.3d 803, n.1 (7th Cir. 2000), “[O]ffice Christmas parties [ ] seem to be fertile ground for unwanted sexual overtures that lead to Title VII complaints.”
Continue Reading Ho-Ho-Hold On Just A Second: Employer “Dos” and “Don’ts” for Holiday Parties

We all know that employers do not receive “time off” from applicable employment laws during the holidays. To avoid unnecessary holiday headaches, be mindful of the following issues as you conduct your workplace holiday staffing and planning.

Comply with your Policies and Collective Bargaining Agreements

Remember to abide by the applicable holiday provisions of your policies, agreements, or collective bargaining agreements. Pay for unworked time on recognized holidays; how time worked on holidays is computed or paid; and eligibility requirements for receipt of holiday pay are often a matter of policy or contract. Breaching such provisions—or disparately enforcing them—can give rise to a claim, charge, or grievance.
Continue Reading Let’s Talk Turkey: Wage/Hour and Other Laws to Feast on Over Thanksgiving