Tis the season to be … sensible
At this time of year many social gatherings are arranged and the inevitable Christmas party approaches. This can throw up a number of legal issues for businesses and employers.
Office parties can be a minefield for HR and employment law advisors as a recent case in the High Court demonstrates. A manager was assaulted by a director following a Christmas party.
After the work Christmas party had ended, the manager, director and other colleagues went on to a hotel and continued drinking. At around 3.00 am, the director assaulted the manager which caused serious brain injuries.
The manager made a claim against his employers seeking that they were responsible for the actions of the director. The question for the High Court was whether the director was acting in the course or scope of his employment? The Judge held that the company could have been liable if the blow had been struck during the Christmas party itself, but the assault in the hotel occurred after the party during a private engagement and so the company was not liable.
This is a timely reminder to businesses and employers that they could be held responsible for improper behaviour at works events, especially where alcohol is flowing freely.