Course Details

HR's Holiday Party Guide: How To Avoid Common Legal And Safety Issues For A Positive Workplace Event

Webinar: ID# 1023330
Recorded On-Demand
About This Course:
True or false: You can be sued for actions taken by an employee after he or she is dropped off at home following a company holiday party.

This is unfortunately true. Workplace holiday parties may be a good way to boost morale and show your employees that the organization values them, but there are several legal pitfalls,like the one mentioned above, that HR needs to watch for.

First and foremost, there are risks that come with serving alcohol at workplace holiday parties. HR and other business leaders must weigh this risk against concerns over people not showing up for the party if alcohol is barred.

While things can certainly go south at a workplace party even in the absence of cocktails, if you decide to serve alcohol you need to be extra sensitive to the potential risks of sexual harassment, workers’ compensation, wrongful death, or other claims that may result.

And there are a host of other potential issues to address, too:
  • What about the choice of venue and theme? Could a Christmas theme be grounds for a religious discrimination lawsuit?
  • Does the party count as “hours worked” for purposes of the Fair Labor Standards Act?
  • Do you have to pay people overtime for attending a party? (That doesn’t seem very “merry and bright.”)
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, and other celebrations for Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa, as well as parties to ring in the New Year, on the horizon, don’t delay in finding out how to ensure that your workplace holiday parties are safe, harassment-free, and legal.

Join us for practical answers on how to avoid a legal hangover in the aftermath of an office party. Our presenters, two skilled labor and employment attorneys, will provide guidelines and tips on how to ensure an enjoyable, morale-boosting event that does not result in litigation.

Learning Objectives:
  • Employee handbook rules to emphasize before the workplace holiday party
  • How to throw a workplace holiday party that doesn’t violate religious discrimination laws, ignore religious or medical needs, or fail to provide access to disabled guests
  • How to reduce the risk of sexual harassment and nip inappropriate behavior in the bud
  • The pros and cons of serving alcohol at a company function
  • Effective ways to limit alcohol consumption and assist inebriated guests in getting home
  • Why you need someone officially “in charge” of the party—and what this person’s responsibilities are
About Your Presenters:

Kasia Nowak, Esq.
Fisher Phillips

Kasia Nowak is an associate in the San Francisco office of Fisher Phillips. Her practice involves employment-related litigation, including defending employers against claims of discrimination, retaliation, wrongful termination, and other torts. She has represented public companies, private companies and individuals in a wide variety of employment matters, in both state and federal courts, and before various state and federal agencies. She has appellate experience, including handling cases before the California Court of Appeal, the California Supreme Court, and the 4th Circuit. Ms. Nowak also advises employers on all aspects of the employment process, including hiring, developing employment policies and handbooks, and handling employee discipline and termination matters. In addition, she routinely provides sexual harassment and management training, as well as employee training. Ms. Nowak has been selected for inclusion in Northern California Super Lawyers – Rising Stars since 2013 and was listed as a Top Woman Attorney in Northern California in 2015.

Amber Elias, Esq.
Fisher Phillips

Amber Elias is an associate in the Boston office of Fisher Phillips. She represents sophisticated national and regional employers in a variety of labor and employment matters. She has handled numerous lawsuits in federal and state courts and administrative agencies with a strong record of success, particularly in winning cases before they go to trial. Her litigation practice focuses on discrimination and retaliation under Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and state human rights laws; Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and other leave laws; non-competes, trade secrets, and other restrictive covenants; and wage and hour issues. She counsels clients on the countless human resources issues they face on a day-to-day basis. By understanding her clients’ challenges and objectives, she offers preventive advice and creates customized solutions that work for their businesses. She is also a dynamic presenter who leads highly effective trainings for senior executive and managers. Ms. Elias is a regular commentator and thought leader on topics including paid sick leave, pay equity, and non-competes. She has contributed to Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) on issues of employee leave and disability accommodation. Through her involvement in the Associated Industries of Massachusetts, she has analyzed the real-world implications of pending legislation and regulations and advocated on behalf of employers throughout the Commonwealth.
HR's Holiday Party Guide: How To Avoid Common Legal And Safety Issues For A Positive Workplace Event
or via On-Demand
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