Picnics, Softball, and Lawsuits

Written by Robert G. Brody on May 12, 2011

With the weather finally warming up, and summer around the corner, many employers are planning their company picnics and summer sports leagues.  While these events aim to be fun and stress-free, employers should remember our easy tips to avoid potential legal liability. 

  • Make the event voluntary – This will avoid possible workers’ compensation claims for injuries during the event, as some states have held mandatory attendance at an employer sponsored recreational event places injuries within the course of employment. 
  • Hold the event at an off-site location – This also helps shift the potential liability of a workers’ compensation claim.
  • Consider not serving alcohol – While many adults feel that picnics and cold beer go hand in hand, cold lemonade may be the better option for your company event.  Many states allow third parties who are injured by intoxicated individuals to sue the host who served the alcohol.  This can mean serious liability for any accidents which occur as a result of an intoxicated employee’s mistakes.  
  • Be sure to supervise – Just because everyone is off the clock does not mean that a member of management should not be designated to oversee the event.  This can remind employees that unruly behavior will not be tolerated especially when it involves illegal harassment.

Company events are great employee relations tools.  They can boost morale and show employees that you want them to enjoy working with you.  By following these simple steps, employers can ensure the fun memories are not erased by memories of lawsuits.   

Brody and Associates regularly advises management on complying with state and federal employment laws.  Every year or so, we remind employers of seasonal issues like this.  If you would like to read a slightly more in depth analysis of this issue, please click here.  If we can be of assistance in this area, please contact us at info@brodyandassociates.com or 203.965.0560.

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Related Topics: Tips of the Month

About the Authors

Robert G. Brody is the founding member of Brody and Associates, LLC. He has been quoted and published in national publications and appears as a guest T.V. commentator on contemporary Labor and Employment issues. Learn More