How to protect your company from a lawsuit tip #3: Do not fire employees because they won’t go out for end-of-workday drinks

How to protect your company from a lawsuit tip #3: Do not fire employees because they won’t go out for end-of-workday drinks

Are you someone who is NOT fun in the office? If so, this one’s for you.

You are probably someone who clocks in at 9:00 a.m., does their job, and clocks out at 5:00 p.m. sharp. You are probably the kind of person that your colleagues often describe as someone who “likes to keep to themselves” as a euphemism for “gloomy misanthrope.”

If you’re someone who refuses your colleagues’ invitations to forced merriment, kudos to you. You’re in good company.

Attending supposedly fun office events can feel like a punishment

Company events can be fun and, in some instances, an important part of fostering a positive work culture. The execs at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in the UK certainly think that, which is why they hold team-building events. One such event was called “pub golf.”

Those Brits love their pubs, so a London-based firm holding a company event at a pub seems totally on-brand, although golf isn't something one would normally associate with drinking alcohol. And based on at least one tragic incident, that’s for a good reason.

PwC auditor Mike Brockie took legal action after suffering serious injuries at said event, which allegedly glorified the excessive consumption of alcohol. The lawsuit alleges that Mr. Brockie attended an April 2019 company-sponsored "tournament" where players had to visit nine bars and, in just a few tiny sips, consume their drinks for the lowest score, with apparently disastrous consequences. They could have at least just called it “pub crawl,” which is exactly what it is.

Mr. Brockie became so drunk that he blacked out and had no memory of what happened that night. He woke up four weeks later with severe injuries, with the police and doctors concluding that he fell over and hit his head on the floor. Besides being in a coma, he had part of his skull removed. Luckily, he survived the drinking tournament’s disastrous consequences, but he said that he still suffered from “persistent cognitive symptoms.”

Alcohol is a fantastic social lubricant, which is especially useful in office functions where booze-fueled conversations could result in non-awkward workplace interactions. But not if there’s even the slightest chance that it will send a staff member into an alcohol-induced coma and result in the company being subject to a personal injury lawsuit.

Like casual Fridays, attending boozy weekend hangouts with the boss should be optional
Some professions such as beer brewer, bartender, and alcoholic beverage brand manager require imbibing alcohol. Granted, these don’t require one to drink alcohol on the job, but these roles are best suited for those who do drink and don’t mind tasting the goods they sell and/or serve.

In almost every other job, drinking alcoholic beverages isn’t necessary. But Paris-based company Cubik Partners doesn’t agree. The company fired an employee, “Mr. T,” who they basically accused of being a bore because he refused to go out with his coworkers for drinks on weekends and attend seminars that also involved drinking alcohol. The grounds for termination was “professional inadequacy,” which was lumped together with “poor listener” and “difficult to work with.”

Paris’ Court of Cassation, France's highest court, ruled in Mr. T's favor, punishing Cubik Partners with a hefty fine for their attempts to coerce employees into seminars and end-of-week festivities that took drinking too far. The court didn't take kindly to companies making its staff party like they just don’t care. The now-ex-employee of Cubik Partners was awarded €2,574 for their mistreatment — a reminder that company-sponsored debauchery must still be done responsibly.

But that’s not all.

The company was also called out for its other shady work directives, including making staff engage in “humiliating and intrusive practices regarding privacy.” This includes requiring them to share a bed with a colleague during seminars, among other questionable acts.

More tips on how to protect your company from a lawsuit:
How to protect your company from a lawsuit tip #1: Do not throw a surprise party for your employees
How to protect your company from a lawsuit tip #2: Do not pay your former employees in oily pennies

There’s no reason why you should force yourself to attend boozy company affairs and suffer the company of your boozy boss. In case you are pressured to attend them and suffer from an injury as a result, consult a lawyer. Get in touch with Buckingham, LaGrandeur, & Williams for your personal injury case in Washington State. Call us or leave us a message.