Does the company have any liability exposure if it holds a work function during office hours but off the premises at which alcohol the company pays for is served to employees?
You bet your life it does!
Check out HRI for a terrific article explaining how employers can be held liable for accidents caused by drunk employees who drank too much alcohol at a company sponsored event. The moral is not that companies shouldn’t hold such events—whether work or social—but that they shouldn’t do so unless they recognize and take measures to manage the significant liability risks they face. Specifically, there are 3 measures to take:
- Monitor how much each guest drinks;
- Try to keep guests from drinking themselves beyond intoxication levels; and
- Above all, prevent them from driving if they do get impaired.
Take their keys, call a car service, if all else fails, call the cops. Just don’t let them get behind the wheel!