From Yahoo7 News, December 12, 03:00 PM
OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTIES 'UNDER THREAT'
The traditional office Christmas party is under threat from potentially costly lawsuits by drunken employees, law experts warn.
Queensland University of Technology business law expert and barrister Norman Katter said companies that organised parties in which alcohol was served were opening the door to litigation.
Dr Katter said if companies failed to supervise the quantity of alcohol and condition of staff they could find themselves in a costly position if a staff member injured themselves or others.
He said that could even include the case of a staff member driving home intoxicated and crashing.
"It's the responsibility of the individual but unfortunately the law also says where an organiser is providing alcohol then they also may have a duty of care," Dr Katter said.
"Simply put, there is an assumption of responsibility once you conduct an office Christmas party."
He said employers had always been open to lawsuits but people were increasingly becoming more aware of their rights, leading to more court cases.
Dr Katter said NSW was the only state which had legislated to make the individual entirely responsible for their own behaviour when alcohol was involved.
He said most businesses took out liability insurance but that was very costly and he expected more and more companies would decide a Christmas party was not worth the cost or risk.
Meanwhile, Queensland's Anti-Discrimination Commission (ADCQ) has warned revellers could easily breach the Anti-Discrimination Act and leave themselves and employer liable for compensation if they did not watch their behaviour at parties.
ADCQ commissioner Susan Booth said kissing, sexually explicit Secret Santa gifts and offensive jokes could all breach the law.
She said companies should remind employees of appropriate behaviour and the dangers of excessive consumption of alcohol before office parties.