Drunk-driving case does not spell end to alcohol at office parties

The duty of care in this case was much higher than had the employer held the party at a banquet hall or restaurant, and if the employee was not obligated to work that day.
By Laura Cassiani
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 12/10/2001

An Ontario court decision that found a Barrie, Ont.-based employer partially responsible after a woman left an office party intoxicated and crashed her car, raises the bar on an employer’s duty of care.

But, before employers cancel this year’s holiday party, they should consider the factual basis of the case, said Michael Failes, partner in the Toronto office of Filion Wakely Thorup Angeletti, a law firm that specializes in management, labour and employment law.

Failes said the media presented the case without looking closely at its narrow, factual scope. He points out the distinguishing features of this case, namely that the employer was serving alcohol in the workplace, during working hours and that part-time employee Linda Hunt was working at the time.