5 Ways Office Holiday Parties can Bring You Lawsuits

It’s party time! As we are now technically in the holiday season, it’s time to think about what many businesses are focusing on these days: Office holiday party.

office holiday party

It’s a great way to end the year with colleagues, and a great reward for the hard work everybody is doing throughout the year. If you, for some reasons, never arrange any office parties, ‘tis the season you should consider doing it – it’s good for your employees’ morale and job satisfaction.

While many are focusing on how to make it a memorable event (on a budget,) I would like to remind you about one issue which many often neglect.

Not trying to be a party pooper, but as you and your staffs are preparing for the party, you should also work on ways to make sure that your party is playing nice with the employment laws and any other public safety laws.

Indeed, holiday office parties are prone to breaching employment laws – and exposing your business to the risks of lawsuits. For sure, this is the least thing you want to happen to your business as the aftermath of your holiday party.

To help you eliminating the guesswork, I would like to remind you some legal troubles which can ruin the fun:

Harassment allegations

Parties are prone to harassments, which include sexual harassment. Whether you like it or not, as an employer, you are generally liable for any harassments which happen during office holiday parties.

Injury claims

Drink-driving is dangerous, and it should be every person’s responsibility to drink responsibly. Unfortunately, traffic accidents and injuries do happen as the results. As an employer, you can be held liable for that. With regard to parties, in Canada, you – the employer – is not considered as ordinary social host; you are considered as commercial host, which means you are responsible in protecting attendees and the general public.

Public disturbance claims

Parties should be fun and loud, right? Well, yes, but unfortunately, rowdy parties are often considered as too disturbing for local residents. You could get into trouble when your party is reported to the local authority.

Not stopping there, when your employees are engaging in unpleasant behaviour – probably due to over-consumption of alcoholic beverages – your business can get slapped with public disturbance offense.

How to prevent legal issues during office holiday party

There are some actions you can take to prevent legal troubles (source: 1, 2, 3):

  • Remind your staffs about company policies for the party
  • Limit alcohol consumption: Use drink tokens, even ban alcoholic beverages altogether
  • Arrange accommodation and transportation for your party attendees.
  • Consider to host the party at a club or restaurant, and don’t hold it during office hours.
  • Don’t require your employees to attend – make it voluntary.
  • Get insured!


Before you launch any holiday office parties, be sure to check with local authority about the do’s and don’ts.

You should also consult with a trusted legal counsel or seek help from legal research solution provider, such as http://www.lexisnexis.co.nz, for advice on how to minimise the risk of holiday party-related claims and allegations.


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