Can an employer be responsible for letting an employee drive home drunk after an officeparty?

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Can an employer be responsible for letting an employee drive home drunk after an officeparty?

Asked on January 5, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

It is possible the employer could be liable--some states have passed laws making social hosts liable for any DUI/DWI-related accidents of their guests, and in this context, the employer could potentially be considered the social host of the party. It is more likely than not that the employer would not be liable--many states do not make social hosts liable; even when social hosts are liable, it can be difficult to hold them accountable unless it can be shown that they knew or should have known that the guest was in no shape to drive; and it's also not clear that an employer would necessarily be considered a social host. The law in this area is still evolving, but it is evolving in the direction of greater liabilty.

However, saying that liability is unlikely is not the same as saying that it is impossible. If you are someone injured by a DUI/DWI employee, you should discuss this matter with an attorney, to see if you may have a case. If you are an employer planning a party, it would be good to take steps to minimize liability--have responsible professionnal bar tenders with instructions to monitor and cut off anyone who drinks excessively; arrange for cabs, a limo, a bus, etc. to take people home; arrange for car pooling and designated drivers.


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