Injuries at holiday work parties are likely covered by WC.
If an employee sustains an injury at a company holiday party, his injuries and time off will likely be covered by WC. In Hawaii, the primary question is whether the injured worker was acting “within the course and scope of employment.” A company holiday party is usually considered work related if (1) the employer directly or implicitly endorses the event and/or may benefit from it, (2) the employer requires or expects employee attendance; and/or (3) employees are paid to participate. Another consideration is whether the event occurred on the employer's property although this is not mandatory.
To limit liability consider (1) not serving alcohol, (2) hiring an outside vendor to serve alcohol, (3) If an employee shows up drunk, ask him to leave, (4) if attendance is not required, clearly state that in the invite, (5) don’t imply attendance will help the employee advance or that failure to attend will indicate the worker isn’t a team player, (6) don’t conduct any work-related activities at the event, such as training or award presentations. (7) don't invite vendors or clients, (8) schedule the event on the weekend and at a location other than company property, and (9) invite family members. This may support an argument that the event isn’t work-related.
If you find you are in need of experienced WC defense counsel, we invite you to call the Law Office of Nathalie S. Pettit at 808-930-5550 or www.heartofdefense.com