December may bring more than holiday cheer for many Americans. A current survey reveals that holiday parties in homes and offices may result in trips to the courtroom for some.
Commissioned by LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell's lawyers.com, a free online directory of 440,000 attorneys nationwide, and conducted by Harris Interactive(R), the survey assessed U.S. adults' vulnerability to common legal pitfalls during the holiday season.
Hosting a Party at Home Involves More Than Planning A Menu
"Most states have 'social host' laws, which hold party hosts liable in certain situations if their guests who drink cause serious car crashes," said Alan Kopit, legal editor of lawyers.com.
"Such hosts may unwittingly put themselves in legal hot water by not carefully monitoring their guests' intoxication levels, particularly when they get in their cars. A few precautionary minutes when planning parties can save the time, money and the heartache of the legal ramifications of a guest's crash," Kopit added.
Check Your Coat, But Not Your Professionalism, at This Year's Office Party
Holiday office parties pose additional legal risks, the survey also uncovered. Twenty-nine percent of adults have experienced or observed sexual advances between people who work together at such gatherings, more than at any other work event during the rest of the year, including those that occur after-hours or on weekends or at the office during the work day.
"An office party can be the site of a sexual harassment situation just as much as the office," said Kopit. "Many people view an office holiday party as a fun, carefree gathering of colleagues, during which normal professional expectations are relaxed. In fact, from a legal perspective, just the opposite is true."
Moreover, only 12 percent have been at a holiday office party at which car keys were collected and returned only to sober drivers. Less than one in three (30 percent) have gone to a holiday office party at which taxi or designated driver service was provided to any employee who needed it.
Survey Commissioned by LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell's Lawyers.com