EMPLOYERS’ HOLIDAY SURVIVAL GUIDE « Law Offices of Timothy Bowles | Top Employment Law Firm in Los Angeles


Avoid Drunk and Disorderly and Keep People Safe

Employers planning end-of-the-year holiday parties should maintain sensible guidelines to carry off a safe and successful gathering.  Management must ensure the event acknowledges production and promotes morale without becoming a fertile ground for harassment incidents or worse.

Some DO’s and DON’Ts:

DO:  Make an actual determination that the company can safely hold a party consistent with prevailing COVID-19 government restrictions and common sense;
DO: Make participation voluntary so people who are uncomfortable can avoid attending without fear of consequences;
DO:  Adopt and announce advance dress code guidelines appropriate to the workplace, e.g., dress not likely to be offensive to other races, cultures, religions, etc.;
DO:  Plan a health-prudent celebration that minimizes any potential for unwelcome, inappropriate conduct, such as drunkenness or harassment of co-workers.  The time of day may help. A luncheon is more likely to avoid unwanted romantic advances and other improper conduct than a dinner;
DO: Have company executives, supervisors, and managers set a good example of appropriate behavior; and
DO: Enforce company guidelines during the event when needed, for instance requiring an offending employee to leave.


DON’T:  Permit improper conduct by supervisors, managers, or executives.
DON’T:  Ignore or dismiss offensive behavior, including so little as off-color banter, even if you personally do not find it offensive.  Inaction is tantamount to condoning bad conduct and greatly increases the possibility of receiving a harassment claim; and
DON’T: Allow alcohol consumption.  Doing so lessens the ability to maintain a professional event and can increase potential exposure to company liability for drunken conduct by an employee.  If you feel you must make alcohol available, provide advance rules to prevent unwanted incidents.

See also:

For further information, please contact Tim Bowles, Cindy Bamforth or Helena Kobrin.

Helena Kobrin
December 10, 2021

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