Employer Liability for Serving Alcohol
When Do Employers Face Liability for Serving Alcohol?
If an employer serves alcohol at a company party, it may be liable for damages caused by its drunken employees. When a person or business continues to serve alcohol to an individual who is obviously drunk, the server is thought to have contributed to the harm caused by the inebriated individual. Employers are usually more vulnerable to liability than social hosts.
How Can Employers Protect Themselves?
In order to avoid liability, an employer should try to remain a social host, rather than a commercial host. Some methods of achieving this status include:
- Not discussing or conducting business at the party
- Making sure that employees know they are not required to attend the party
- Using certified or experienced bartenders, who are independently insured
- Holding the party offsite
- Holding the party at a hotel, where guests may be able to stay the night
- Not encouraging excessive drinking
- Avoiding drinking with employees at other sites once the party has ended
- Laying out office party ground rules in the employee handbook
Can a Lawyer Help Protect Employers?
If an employer is planning an office party and is concerned about liability for serving alcohol, an employment attorney can help the employer establish a policy that protects the employer while still allowing employees to enjoy themselves. If you are an employee facing a liquor liability suit, an employment lawyer can advise you of your employer's potential liability.
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Last Modified: 01-16-2014 02:28 PM PST
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