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Even ‘Optional’ company events carry risks

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Q. Awhile back you suggested that we provide transportation home for employees who suffer an illness that could be work-related. Would that apply to company parties for which employees' attendance is voluntary? —C.K, Illinois

A. If only it was that simple. Many organizations have learned the hard way that nonmandatory company events—such as holiday parties and sports outings—can spur negligence, workers' comp or hostile work environment claims. Best bet: If you're serving alcohol at a company-sponsored event: (1) Designate a few “dry” managers to make sure things don't get out of hand and (2) Make transportation available to employees.

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