From the Hotline: Holiday Parties and Liability

Question: If an employee who appears not to be fully coherent drives home from work or from a work holiday party and gets in an accident, is the employer liable?

Answer: If the employer has knowledge that the employee appears not to be fully coherent and therefore unsafe to operate machinery or a vehicle, the company may have liability in the event of an accident. If the employer has a policy in place providing for employee testing if there is reasonable suspicion for being under the influence, follow that policy.

A best practice would be to meet with the employee in private and share your concern for his or her safety and offer a ride or taxi for the employee’s safe return home. Additionally, if there is an existing policy where the employee can be sent for substance use testing, provide a safe ride to the testing facility. Otherwise, if the employer permits the employee to drive himself to the testing facility and there is any incident or accident while in transit, it could result in potential employer liability.