Office holiday parties should be cause for celebration, not litigation (Legal view)

Party venue still considered a workplace
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 11/29/2007

As the holiday season approaches, employers across the country are planning that popular and sometimes notorious tradition — the office holiday party. But many employers are hesitant, and justifiably so, due to the potential liability of holding such an event, particularly in light of court decisions finding employers responsible for the actions of intoxicated employees.

Whether or not to serve alcohol at a company party can be a tough decision. It can boost employee morale while excluding it can risk disenchantment.

But the potential for problems, and employer liability, increases when alcohol is served. Employers should keep in mind an office party is considered part of the workplace, says Natalie McDonald, a partner with the Toronto-based employment law firm Grosman, Grosman and Gale.