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Legal Issues Pertaining to Sweeping

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Holiday Parties: What Do They Mean For Employers and Employees?

Provided as a courtesy to the power sweeping industry by Daniel Burnick and Jim Sturdivant,
Attorneys at Law with Alabama-based Sirote & Permutt Law Firm
adapted with permission to embrace a national scope by Ranger Kidwell-Ross

Santa Drinking Attending holiday parties and the consumption of alcoholic beverages between Thanksgiving and New Years offers increased opportunities to engage in risky behavior. The criminal penalties for DUI are steep, including, in many states, jail time and a hefty fine.

In addition, a person charged with DUI typically faces a suspension of their driving privileges. In some states, this suspension can be imposed as a result of a conviction for DUI or can be administratively imposed prior to any conviction based upon either a refusal to perform a blood alcohol breath test or a person's breath alcohol level being above that allowed by state statute.

In some states, the state may impose even more serious penalties upon any person who is convicted of having a very high alcohol level in his blood while driving.

The bottom line is that if a person chooses to drink at a holiday gathering or event, they should do so very sparingly, if at all. The better practice is simply not to consume alcohol, or to consume a very, very small amount of alcohol, prior to driving a motor vehicle. The consequences of consuming more than one drink and driving a motor vehicle is just too risky for the individual.

Employers also need to be cautious during the Holiday Season. Holiday parties often create or increase the risks of inappropriate behavior, whether it is inappropriate dress, inappropriate dancing with co-workers, sexual harassment, assault and even wrongful death claims if an accident is caused by a driver who became intoxicated at the party. Arrests, EEOC charges and lawsuits can be the result. In order to cut down on the risk of liability, there are many things an employer can do. These include:

  • Remind all employees of the company's sexual harassment policy at work, including company sponsored parties.
  • Remind managers of their responsibility to enforce company policy at any company sponsored party
  • Have non-alcoholic beverages available for consumption
  • Train staff to recognize employees who may be intoxicated, and to not serve any more alcohol to them. Or hire a professional who is already trained to do this.
  • Pre-arrange for designated drivers or alternative transportation, taxis, busses, etc.
  • Stop serving alcohol at least an hour before the official end time of the party.
  • If a complaint is made, follow your policy, which should include a prompt, thorough and complete investigation, with appropriate disciplinary action if required.

Follow the above steps to ensure a safe, happy – lawsuit-free – Holiday Season!

And, for a few more tips, check out a similar article written for us by attorney, David B. Wilson, in 2009.

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Thanks to Daniel J. Burnick and Jim Sturdivant for providing the above information to our subscribers. You may reach either at the Alabama-based law firm of Sirote & Permutt

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