Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Hosting A Holiday Party?  Tips to Limit Your Legal Exposure

‘Tis the season for holiday parties and the spreading of good cheer in the workplace.  Unfortunately, too much cheer can cause liability for employers. If your Company plans to serve alcohol at the holiday party, the organization could be at risk for legal liability if a drunken employee harms himself or others.  To minimize this risk, use these tips to assist in planning an alcohol safe event.

  • ·      Talk about your Company culture with employees emphasizing that drinking to excess is unacceptable during company events. Include alcohol usage guidance in your Company code of conduct.
  • ·      Always serve food, such as appetizers, from the start of the event so employees are not drinking on an empty stomach.
  • ·      Avoid having drinking as the main focus of the event. Provide entertainment, speeches, presentations, or other activities for employees to participate in at the event.
  • ·      Consider serving just beer and wine, no liquor. Avoid serving drinks such as punch that limit an employee’s ability to assess how much alcohol they are drinking.
  • ·      Limit the number of drinks the Company provides by using drink tickets or another informal method of tracking the amount of alcohol served.
  • ·      Limit the number of hours that the bar is open. For example, close the bar during dinner and at a reasonable time to signal the drawing to a close and ending of the event.
  • ·      Use trained bartenders to serve alcohol; never allow employees to serve coworkers or themselves. Also, make sure your bartenders are clear that they are not to serve alcohol to any person who appears to be inebriated.
  • ·      Recruit your managers and event planning committee members, in advance, to keep their eyes open for employees who may be overindulging. Offer the employee a ride home, call and pay for a cab, or make certain that a designated non-drinking driver takes the wheel.

Employers need to be aware of the potential liability associated with holiday parties; but with a little a planning, holiday parties can be safe and liability-free.

Please feel free to call and/or email Cobbe Law directly with any questions or concerns.   Happy Holidays! 

Monday, November 28, 2016


On November 22, 2016, a US Court in Texas entered an order providing a nationwide injunction blocking the enactment and enforcement of the new FLSA minimum salary threshold for exempt employees. The ruling comes just before the new minimum salary requirement was set to take effect later this week. 

What does this mean for your business? As it stands, the current salary threshold, $23,660 annually / $455 per week will remain in effect until the temporary injunction is vacated or modified upon appeal.  None of these nullifying events are likely to occur prior to the previously scheduled December 1 implementation date.

The increase in minimum salary was expected to impact over 4 million employees.  Unfortunately, most employers have already made the decision and told their employees that their salaries were being increased or they were being converted to hourly employees, making them subject to the overtime regulations.

Despite this pro-employer ruling, the status of the temporary injunction should be closely monitored.  If the injunction is lifted or modified, employers may be in the same position they were faced with prior to last Tuesday's ruling. 

Please feel free to call and/or email Cobbe Law directly with any questions or concerns.