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Dimitry K., Esq.
Dimitry K., Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 41221
Experience:  Multiple jurisdictions, specialize in business/contract disputes, estate creation and administration.
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I just found out that my husband's tech company in San Francisco

Customer Question

I just found out that my husband's tech company in San Francisco keeps a keg of beer in the office all day every day, so that employees have constant access to free beer. Last night my husband came home drunk, then got in his car and drove. He gor a DUI, and tested 2 times over the legal limit on his breathalizer. We now face thousands of dollars of legal fees. Yet, he got drunk on the beer provided in the keg at work - at his office - provided by his employer - every single day. I feel that this free keg of beer the company provides is encouraging drunkenness and alcoholism, and as a spouse with a young child to care for, I am very, very upset to discover that my husband got drunk at work, on the company's dime from a keg that is constantly available t him every day. Is there grounds for a lawsuit here?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Dimitry K., Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your question. Please permit me to assist you with your concerns. If I may ask, did they make or compel him to drink? Also, did he pay for the beer, or did the company pay for the keg and the beer themselves? Was he drinking alone or was this some sort of a company sponsored event?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
They compelled him to drink by providing a free keg of beer at his office every single day - constantly. Last night, apparently he was influenced by peer pressure. The keg of beer is FREE to employees. He was not drinking alone. It was a company standard - they provide a free keg of beer al day every day as a standard part of their business practices. (I just learned this today).
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
The company pays for the keg of beer they provide at the office daily.
Expert:  Dimitry K., Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Hi, Please allow me just a few moments--I just wrote a fairly long reply and it disappeared into the thread. Please allow me a bit to recreate the answer.
Expert:  Dimitry K., Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your patience. "Compelling" does not generally mean 'providing'. For someone to be 'compelled', the employer has to make it clear that employment or disciplinary action is possible if the employee does not take part or utilize what they provide. This is very similar to a situation where an employer may provide sandwiches for their employees--unless they require or demand that the employee eat the food, there is no duress or threat of force. As such, even if this was company offered, they company is generally not responsible for overuse. Second, since the employer is not a liquor company, they are not covered by 'Dram Shop' laws. This type of law generally extends liability for the victims of the employee based on their intoxication. This would therefore be someone who was injured by someone intoxicated who came from the company, but that is still unlikely to create actual liability. Now, what may exist is a concept under 'social host' rules. Social host liability is based on the concept that, under certain circumstances, a party host serving alcohol should be responsible for the acts of drunk guests. Notice, however, the host is not responsible to the guest but to the third party. Unless you can tie in some sort of injury to your spouse's position if he failed to drink, however, they are not responsible if your spouse chose to drink on his own.Sincerely, ***** *****
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Huh. Well, I'm reading online that companies can be sued for employees getting drunk and into trouble after a company party or event, so I don't understand why they don't have liability if they provide alcohol as a standard practice at the company office. That seems worse than an event to me. The injury is that my spouse got a DUI, which will cost us thousands of dollars to defend/deal with. If he had not had alcohol readily, freely, and easily available to him at hus workplace, he wouldn't have had the opportunity to over-indulge at work. I'm not saying the company is 100% liable, but I do think they should have some accountability for their HIGHLY unethical practice of providing a highly addictive and inebriating substance to employees for free at work. I understand you saying that they have no liability/responsibility at all. While you may be correct, it seems very wrong to me that they would have no liability. It seems to be thay their liability should be some percentage of the damages that the DUI will cause.
Expert:  Dimitry K., Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Hi, Companies can, indeed, be pursued if their action is deemed 'reckless' by the courts. But this is subjective. Furthermore, the person who was drinking voluntarily is not the party who files suit, but the victim. For example if your spouse came from a sanctioned employer event and got incredibly intoxicated, hit a car, and injured a person, the owner of that car and that person can potentially sue the employer under the theory of 'respondiat superior' for their damages. But the employee cannot sue the employer because the employer did not make him drink. The fact that alcohol was available does not make them liable. He did not have to drink it. Likewise, the fact that the employer may provide sandwiches does not make them liable to the employee for heart disease or high cholesterol if he chooses to eat it. I do understand your point here, I really do, but while their actions may not be agreeable, they are not in this case at fault. Sincerely, ***** *****
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Expert:  Dimitry K., Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Good luck to you and please take care. Please let me know if I can assist you further with your concerns. Otherwise, if satisfied, kindly do not forget to positively rate. Thank you! Sincerely, ***** *****