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Enjoy your company's holiday party -- but be careful, too

Many employees and companies look forward to their holiday parties. It's a time for celebration -- and to reflect on a good year of business. However, these holiday parties are famously fraught with peril (if a little bit stereotyped). There can be legal issues for employees and employers alike when the alcohol is set out on the table and the workers loosen their ties or let down their hair.

So let's take a look at a few situations and reminders regarding company holiday parties, and how they relate to the realm of employment law:

  • Did you know that employees could make a case for unpaid overtime if the holiday party is "mandatory"?
  • If the party does serve alcohol, it behooves both employees and employers to act responsibly. Imbibing a little too much can cause some very serious situations to arise, including incidents of harassment and discrimination that are completely unacceptable.
  • For employers: you should have your party at an off-site location, like a restaurant or hotel. Choosing to use your own premises as a location for the party can leave the company in a very precarious situation should something illegal occur.
  • For employees: you may want to bring your spouse or another family member along with you to the party. Not only could that be a fun night for you, but it also helps people act in a more proper and courteous way when loved ones are around.
  • Last but not least, enjoy your company party! Just with one caveat: enjoy it responsibly.

Source: bizjournals.com, "Tips for avoiding holiday party problems that could hurt your company," Harley Storrings, Dec. 16, 2013

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