The holidays are here! This is an excellent time of year for a holiday office party and enjoying life after a year of hard work, getting through the pandemic, a crazy real estate market, and so much more.
Unfortunately, if you aren’t careful, you can find yourself in legal trouble with your holiday parties. Here are a few tips to help keep yourself out of trouble.
Don’t Make the Party Mandatory
You may feel tempted to make a holiday party mandatory. While it’s understandable, it’s not something you should do- especially if held after work hours. If you have employees that are non-exempt and work 40 hours a week at your workplace, requiring them to attend an evening holiday party means you’re essentially asking them to work overtime.
Avoid Calling it a Christmas Party
Yes, your home may be decorated for Christmas. But when you invite everyone, avoid calling the party a “Christmas” party. Even though Christmas is a national holiday in the U.S., it’s also tied to the Christian religion. Therefore, employees who are not Christian may feel uncomfortable going to a Christmas party.
But it actually goes further than that. Both state and Federal laws prohibit discrimination based on religion. Someone may feel discriminated against if they’re invited to a Christmas party, so avoid the word altogether and call it a Holiday party.
Keep an Eye on Your Drinkers
It’s common for a holiday office party to have alcohol around. There’s no problem with that, but as a host, you need to keep an eye on your guests.
Here’s a scenario for you – let’s say you have a holiday party with a ton of alcohol. Everyone is having a great time, and some have too many drinks. While you worry about them being able to get home okay, you let them drive because “they’re adults and take care of themselves.”
What happens if someone leaving your party drunk gets in a car wreck? Could you be liable?
The short answer is yes! That’s why it’s essential to keep an eye on everyone, especially those who have been drinking a lot. Don’t let them drive home – get a taxi, Uber, or designated driver to help them out. Let them crash on your couch. Whatever it takes to prevent them from driving drunk.
Don’t Serve Alcohol to Minors
If your holiday office party is a family affair and minors will be around, be careful that they don’t drink alcohol. The legal drinking age of 21 is there for a reason, and as the party’s host, you’re responsible for ensuring the minors don’t drink.
Ideally, you do this by having a designated adult hang around the alcohol to ensure a minor doesn’t end up swiping it. It would be best if you also asked your guests to ensure they don’t give anything to their kids. Yes, it may feel a little awkward, but it’s essential.
Your head should also be on a swivel throughout the night to watch out for minors who may have gotten a glass somehow. But, of course, you’re already watching out for people who have too much to drink, so why not add another thing to look out for?
Holiday parties are a blast! Whether you’re having one for your family and friends, neighbors, coworkers, or another group, it’s an excellent opportunity to enjoy each others’ company. Just keep these things in mind to avoid getting in legal trouble!
If you have any questions about having a safe holiday party – or any other family or business-related law advice – give us a call at 714.456.9118, send us a note, or email us at email@example.com. We’ll talk to you soon!