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Employee Intoxication and Liability to Business Owners

Almost all business prohibit alcohol consumption by employees during work hours. However, there may be occasions where alcohol consumption by an employee may occur, perhaps a office party or at a marketing event.

United States courts do not see eye to eye regarding the liability of an employer for injuries caused by employee intoxication. However, since 1974 the court has established some basic guidelines to establish employer liability.

Employer liability may be determined based on one of the following factors: 1) Was the consumption of alcohol allowed by the employer ? 2) Is the use of alcohol a customary event? 3) Did the consumption of alcohol by the employee benefit the employer in any manner? 4) Was the employee intoxicated during the scope of employment?

However, a employer may be liable for the injuries caused by their employee even if the accident itself occurred when the employee was outside of the scope of employment but the intoxication occurred due to a workplace party or function. A 2013 case, Purton v. Marriott International, Inc., expanded liability to business owners when an employee becomes intoxicated at an employer sponsored event. This ruling would include alcohol consumption at marketing meetings or while an employee is meeting with a current customer or a potential customer. To determine liability, the court will look at to see if the alcohol consumption was paid for by the employer, if it was meant to encourage relations between employees or to boost employee morale.

If your injuries were caused by a person who was under the influence of alcohol, please contact the attorneys at AutoAccident.com.

Photo Attribution: By Bjarki Sigursveinsson (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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