Monday, December 4, 2006

Employer Liability for Holiday Parties

Party_1 Today's issue of New York Law Journal has an article by Jeffrey S. Klein and Nicholas J. Pappas (both of Weil, Gotshal & Manges) reminding employers that holiday parties can breed litigation:

Eleven years ago we first wrote about the surprising volume of litigation arising out of employer-sponsored holiday parties.  We pointed to many common fact patterns that formed the basis of employee claims of sexual harassment, social host liability [employee drives home drunk], and for Workers' Compensation benefits [employee gets drunk and falls down stairs, or picks fight with co-worker].

While claims of sexual harassment appear to have continued unabated, our review of New York law uncovered relatively few new cases asserting social host and workers' compensation liability. The paucity of reported decisions, however, does not reflect any corresponding reduction in risk and the increasing number of employers hosting holiday parties in recent years amidst better economic fortune, prompting our revisiting this topic.

In this column, we once again analyze the challenges employers face in planning their annual holiday parties. We discuss illustrative cases and suggest a number of concrete steps employers may wish to consider to reduce injuries and potential liabilities in planning their holiday parties.


Hat tip: Mitch Rubinstein.


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