Holiday parties are a popular way for employers to “rally the troops” and boost morale at a time of year when, quite frankly, few people want to be at work. However, over recent years, holiday parties have been the focus of much scrutiny, as concerns about sexual harassment, sexual abuse, and the over-serving of alcohol have come to light. Indeed, there is a noticeable increase in the number of Massachusetts drunk driving accidents during the holiday months, and this is in part due to people getting behind the wheel after having too much to drink at a work holiday party.
Under the Massachusetts dram shop and social host laws, employers often have a legal obligation to ensure that they do not over-serve employees at a work holiday party. If the holiday party is held at a restaurant, country club, or bar, that duty will also extend to the business hosting the event. While establishing liability in a Boston dram shop case can be difficult, it is possible with the help of an experienced Massachusetts personal injury lawyer.
Establishing liability against a social host is slightly different than doing so against a restaurant or bar. Typically, the threshold is lower to prove that a bar or restaurant negligently served or over-served alcohol to a patron. However, if there is evidence showing that a social host knew a guest was intoxicated, but served them alcohol anyway, the host may be liable for any damages that stem from the decision to serve that individual.