November 20, 2007
The Boston Globe on Tips to Avoid Lawsuits from Office Parties
Posted by Lisa Fairfax

The Boston Globe notes that holiday parties are a potential minefield for lawsuits, and hence provides some tips, courtesy of Bryan Cave LLP, for businesses seeking to avoid being blasted.  Below are some of the tips:

"Avoid salty foods such as chicken wings because they may result in excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages.

Consider having adequate security.

Make employee attendance voluntary.

Check relevant insurance policies for possible coverage.

Set the tone with a series of pre-party memos. Memos should note that the party is a business-related function, and they should also remind everyone of the company's anti-harrassment policies. Pre-party memos should suggest that everyone should give gag gifts and provocative decorations a good leaving-alone.

If party plans call for music, tell the band or DJ, "No slow dances."

And after the party, investigate all harrassment complaints."

I especially like the pre-party memos, and though I have been to my share of holiday parties, I have never actually seen such a memo.   And of course, while some of these tips seem obvious and even a bit over the top, there is always that memorable office party story floating around suggesting that even in business settings, with people who are otherwise extremely professional, there are those who do get carried away (and inappropriately so) at holiday parties.

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