Too Much to Drink at Company Picnic

Our company picnic is BYOB. I am curious about what other people do (or don't do) when an employee has too much to drink at a company picnic and acts like a fool (nothing that is against the law but behavior that is unprofessional and could hurt the employee's reputation and possibly the company's)?  Do you intervene at the time and say something?  Ask the employee's supervisor to say something? Simply raise your eyebrows? Wait until the next day and discipline the employee? Don't say or do anything?


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  • Hey, don't overreact. These people are adults, and the company did say BYOB and did not ban liquor from the event (which many companies are doing to prevent problems that you described).

    Colleagues will probably intercede and let the employee know he or she has had too much or that behavior getting out of hand.

    This isn't a school outing and the supervisors aren't teacher/monitors, so I wouldn't make the direct supervisor intevene.

    Unless the person did something extreme, such as using unacceptable language or motions (especially against another employee), there is no need to say anything at the picnic. 

    Of course, if the employee is too inebriated to drive, someone must take him or her home.

  • I wouldn't overract either. Leave it up to the employee's co-workers...they'll probably give the employee such a ribbing the next day that he/she will never drink too much at a company funtion again.

    But, I agree with fisHRman...if the employee seems to drunk to drive, offer him/her a ride home, or recruit someone who lives in the same area to give the employee a ride. Regardless of whether or not the company would be liable, it's just the right thing to do.

  • I think that you should take some form of action but what action you take depends entirely on the severity of their behavior and the position of the employee.  Severity of behavior - If it's something that could hurt the employee's reputation and possibly the company's, then was it sexual in nature in any way?  If the employee is making racy remarks, unwanted advances, or unwanted physical contact then you could be faced with hostile environment harassment claims.  Even if not now, then perhaps in the future as some employees tend to hold things in their arsenal until they're in trouble and then let it rip... you can't write me up for X just look at what you tolerated from so and so at the company picnic.  Many employers think that BYOB cuts off the corporate liability but that's not the case - company function, company responsibility.  Also, was this exclusively a corporate event meaning that there weren't any vendors, spouses, or other non-employees at the function?  I assume that when you mentioned the company's reputation you're considering what non-employees may have seen and thought about the behavior and the level of professionalism at your company.   Level of position -  It sounds as if the employee isn't in a leadership role, however, if they are then they should be leading by example which should by no means include drunken, boorish behavior.  If too much time hasn't passed since the event, I'd have their supervisor talk with them about the behavior and let them know that it lends to rumors and gossip as well as people speculating on his/her level responsibility and their credibility.  You also need to think about the level of productivity (or lack there of) as the employees will be chatting about this for days after.  You may also want to consider cutting out alcohol at the events or changing your policy so the company supplies the alcohol but limits the consumption to 2-3 alcoholic beverages per person.  Obviously, the timing of such a change should be such that it doesn't cause more gossip and speculation about what this employee "gotten taken away from the others!" 

  • It would depend on the severity of the behavior.   If it is an ongoing problem or others complain you may want to consider banning alcohol in the future.
  • I think the real problem is represented in the first five words of the original post. Company events are no longer venues for alcohol, for a variety of reasons. Welcome to the 21st century!
  • I agree.  Alcohol should no longer be a part of company functions. 
  • Change the picnic to "No Alcohol".  The way you do your picnic is a lawsuit waiting to happen.  The Company can be help responsible if the employee is involved in an accident on his way home and you did not take his keys away and a host of other problems. 
  • As others have said, make it NO ALCOHOL.  We don't allow alcohol at work, so we don't allow it at the company picnic.  I'm surprised your attorney didn't advise you against having alcohol.  Even if you don't provide the alcohol, you can still be found liable for allowing it at your company event.  If the person had an accident going home from the event and injured themselves or someone else, the company could be liable.  Make your life easier and change the guidelines.  Maybe move the picnic next year to a different locale that doesn't allow alcohol on the premises to help with the transition.
  • In this day it is hard to believe there are still companies willing to participate in such a risk. The liability issues associated with intoxication are far reaching. There was an upper level manager that lost his job the day after our last Christmas party because he was so eniebriated. This manager was offensive, rude, and threatened an entry level employee who filled an complaint with my office the next day. There was also DUI's that damaged the companies reputation in the community from managment level. We were fortunate nobody was killed or injured. Company events should not include alcohol.

  • My company a couple years back provided drinks at our Christmas Party.  We also had an employee, well several, but on that comes to mind who had too much to drink and made a scene, taking away from the party.  Enlight of this event and the struggle to get him in a cab verses taking his own car, and more imporatantly the liability on the company, we no long allow alcoholic beverages at party's.

  • At my previous company, which was very large, we had picnics where beer and wine were provided.  Surprisingly, we never had an issue with someone getting out of hand, even though there were hundreds of guests.  We also provided taxi service and did not allow anyone to drive to/from the event.  The humorous part, looking back on it, was that it was usually senior management that drank too much, not the worker bees!
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