As of January 2019, Florida’s current minimum wage of $8.25 per hour will be raised by 2.5 percent to $8.46. Florida’s minimum wage rates are not set by a new law each year, that would be difficult to accomplish. Instead, the Florida Minimum Wage Act (FL Stat. 448.110) gives authority to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) to set the new rates each year based on the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers, not seasonally adjusted, for the South Region.
“Brace Yourselves… Holiday Parties Are Coming.” Tips for Avoiding Legal Issues Stemming from Company Holiday Parties
- Diversity & Inclusiveness (Happy Festivus, Happy Christmahanakwanzika, or… Happy Holidays?)
- Alcohol Consumption and Service (Please Drink Responsibly… or Not At All.)
- Attendance (Your Attendance is Strongly Encouraged… Completely Optional)
- Insurance (You Can Never Have Too Much
Fruit Cake… Insurance)
- Be Creative and Have Fun!
Happy Festivus, Happy Christmahanakwanzika, or… Happy Holidays?
Please Drink Responsibly… or Not At All.
Clearly Communicate Employee Expectations and Appropriate Decorum
Overview of Florida’s Dram Shop Laws, Social Host Liability, and Indemnification of Vendors
A Few Quick Tips for Alcohol Service at Company Parties…
- Provide Employees With a Ride and Parking – Consider providing Uber, Lyft, Taxi, or Car Services from your event to ensure they are safe. You can purchase promo codes through ride-sharing services and even negotiate a special rate with taxi companies and car services. If you do this, your employees will know that you care about their safety.
- Drink Tickets and Service Limits – Setup a drink voucher system to limit the alcohol consumption to a reasonable level. To make it fun, have special “themed” drinks or cocktails setup at various stations. You should have a clear time where alcohol service is cut-off, then start serving alternative beverages such as coffee, tea, or even hot cocoa (who doesn’t love hot cocoa?!).
- Use a Professional – Do not have a self-service system for employees to get their own drinks. Also, you should not allow employees to serve alcohol to other employees. Hire a professional catering service with appropriate licensing, permits, and training.
- Follow the Leaders – If you and your leadership team are excessively drinking, good luck making sure your employees stay responsible. You should lead by example.
- Family Friendly – Depending on your team, and you know them best, you might decide to not have alcohol at all, or to limit alcoholic beverages to beer and wine. I know that can be easier said than done. However, it’s easier to justify and implement if you make the holiday party a family-friendly function. This also makes it easier for more of your employees to attend if they can bring their children and don’t have to find childcare. As discussed above, statistics show that you won’t be in the minority. A growing number of companies are eliminating alcohol from their holiday parties.
Your Attendance is
Strongly Encouraged… Completely Optional
You Can Never Have Too Much
Fruit Cake… Insurance
If you choose to have your event at a special venue, ensure that the premises’ owner and/or operator have adequate insurance and that all of your vendors (e.g. caterers, bar staff, entertainment, etc.), especially those serving alcohol, are also insured and have up-to-date licensing and permits to perform their duties (i.e. food services, liquor/alcohol licensing, etc.). Most event coordinators or venue operators will (or should) make this a requirement for their subcontractors. However, it never hurts to ask and it shows that you are paying attention to the details. At the end of the day, you do not want your company to be the deepest available pockets if something happens. Your lawyer can assist you in engaging your vendors and venues.
Lastly, do a site inspection of the facilities in the weeks before your holiday party to make sure they are safe and have all necessary accessibility and access requirements under local, state, and Federal laws (e.g. American’s with Disabilities Act – ADA). Once again, you want to ensure safety and accessibility so that everyone can enjoy the party.
Be Creative and Have Fun!
- Give Back – Consider having a charitable element to your holiday party. My good friends, Christina Anton Garcia and John Castro of Anton Castro Law in Tampa do this wonderfully by making their holiday party a donation drop off for Toys-for-Tots! You should see the mountain of toys that they are able to donate to children in need.
- Employee Entertainment – You likely have some talented employees in your company (they could be hiding). Forming a “company band” to play holiday songs and other popular songs, is a great way to build teamwork and feature your own “rock stars”. Give your employees something to remember and grab the mic and serenade them yourself. However, you might end up on Youtube… like this boss. PLEASE do not sing the song that he chose.
- Cooking Competition – Hire a locally-recognized chef to have a cooking class and teach your team how to make various holiday dishes. You can even have a “Top Chef” competition between various departments and teams. This can be a great team building activity and you give your team members something that they can share with their friends and family throughout the holiday season–delicious dishes!
A Few Blogs & Articles on Holiday Parties:
- Top 25 Office Holiday Party Ideas From the Pros – FitSmallBusiness
- 9 Corporate Holiday Party Ideas Your Employees Will Be Talking About for Weeks – INC.
- 15 Office Holiday Party Ideas for Teams of Every Size (and Budget) – Justworks, Inc.
How Can CERV LAW Help You?
If you have specific questions about the issues raised above or if I can be of assistance to you or your company in any other matter, feel free to contact me, Chris Cervellera of CERV LAW, PLLC in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Note: This article should not be construed or interpreted as legal advice nor the formation of an attorney-client relationship.
I’m proud to announce the launch of my law firm, CERV LAW, PLLC in St. Petersburg. Through this firm, I will serve entrepreneurs, small businesses, individuals and professionals in St. Petersburg, Tampa Bay, and throughout Florida. By leveraging my legal skills and training, years of business and leadership experience, and commitment to creativity & innovation, I hope to transform the way legal services are offered to entrepreneurs, small businesses, and professionals. I’m also passionate about utilizing my legal skills to provide pro bono legal services in my local community. Learn more about my areas of focus.
What is “CERV”?
Well, “CERV” is a shortened version of my last name, the first four letters to be exact. During law school, a few of my friends started calling me “Cerv” (probably because they were too scared to pronounce my last name). Since then, the name has stuck. Each letter in CERV stands for a quality that defines my commitment to my clients through this firm.
CREATIVITY / ENERGY / RELIABILITY / VERSATILITY
Learn more about the “CERV” Commitment.
This week is Thanksgiving. That makes it even more fitting for me to express my deepest thanks and gratitude to a number of people and organizations that helped make this possible. (Warning: The list is long, if this were a speech at an awards ceremony the music would probably cut me off.)
Family & Friends: I’d like to thank my family and friends who have supported and encouraged me throughout the establishment of my firm these past few months, and also throughout law school and the bar exam. My success is truly shared with you. I am humbled by your support and thankful to have all of you in my life.
Stetson University College of Law: I’d like to thank my classmates in the part-time program and my professors at Stetson Law. It feels weird saying this, especially publicly, but I actually miss law school. Specifically, I’d like to thank Chris Covell, Glenn Bukowski, and Steve Gower for being too scared (or too lazy) to say my last name and for giving me the nickname “CERV” (BTW… you have no rights in the name).
My TAG Alliances Team & Community: I’d like to thank Richard Attisha and Melisa Attisha, my employers, for allowing me to create this venture while maintaining my role as Executive Director at TAG Alliances (I’m not going anywhere). I appreciate your confidence and trust in me. Additionally, I’d like to thank the hundreds of lawyers, accountants, and advisors in TAG Alliances who I count as friends and mentors. I’d also like to thank Peter Appleton Jones and Anne Appleton Jones–words can’t express how thankful I am to you and your family.
A Few Mentors: I’d like to thank my longtime mentor Bob Sattin for his honest and trusted advice. Also, I’ve recently had the opportunity to connect with a number of local lawyers in St. Petersburg. Specifically, I’d like to thank Douglas Jackson. Doug is a fellow solo attorney and he has been more than valuable throughout this process in sharing his own experiences. I’d also like to thank my former professor and local St. Petersburg attorney, James Martin. It was actually Jim’s idea for me to start my own firm while Doug pushed me over the edge.
The Garrs: My sister and brother-in-law, Megan and Andrew Garr, are amazing cinematographers and photographers through their business, The Garrs. They are so amazing that they even made my mug look halfway decent in my professional photos haha.
The Florida Bar’s Practice Resources Institute “LegalFuel”: The leadership, both current and former, of the Florida Bar should be commended for putting together their Practice Resource Institute, now called LegalFuel. It is a comprehensive and invaluable resource for any lawyer in Florida who is looking to establish a firm.
The St. Petersburg Bar Association: Recently, I’ve attended a few events organized by the St. Petersburg Bar Association. In addition to the quality of the professionals, I’ve been impressed with the openness and welcoming spirit of the group. I look forward to getting more involved in this local community of peers.
Regions Bank: Since 2004, Regions has been where I have conducted my personal and business banking (back when they were still AmSouth!). I’d like to thank my local banker in St. Petersburg, Bruce Andrulis, for his positivity and his help with this venture along with my other personal & business banking needs. IMHO, Bruce is the best banker in St. Petersburg.
Thanks to everyone above and those who I didn’t mention. I look forward to making you proud through CERV LAW, PLLC. Please contact me if I can be of assistance to you, your family, your friends, or anyone in your professional circle.