Wednesday, December 19, 2007

“The Employer’s Liability During Parties”

The holiday season is a time of merrymaking and parties. During this time, employers throw parties for their workers and employees take the chance to interact with fellow workers longer. But sadly, on this occasion too, many people find time to over-indulge in food and alcohol, which sometimes lead to accidents.
The question is: are employers responsible for injuries suffered by a guest during parties hosted by the company?
The answers may be found in the article I have just read “Have A Good – Not Too Good- Time At Your Company Party”, posted November 7, and one will find it surprising that employers may be held accountable for the conduct of its employees during functions, like parties, within its premises.
As the article explained, under California law, an employer generally has no responsibility for the injuries that a drunken employee may cause on another person. However, the courts have made an exception to this rule. On two conditions, a third-party injury caused by an employee may hold the company liable for injury and damages:
  • The employees’ conduct must be considered a ‘foreseeable risk’.
  • The employee must be within the ‘scope of employment’ at the time of the incident.
Attending an employer-sponsored function is considered to be within the ‘scope of employment’ if:
  • The activity is endorsed or permitted by the employer
  • The activity is part of the aspect of employment relationship
Knowing the potential exposure of these functions to liability, employers should monitor and evaluate policies regarding the behavior of employees during office functions. In this way, the company can truly enjoy the affair and have happy celebrations of the holidays.