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‘Tis the season to be jolly

Meredith Hurst Monday, October 14, 2013

In the headlines this week is the case of Dave Sloan, a popular chauffeur of Liverpool FC who is taking the club to an employment tribunal hearing on Wednesday.  Mr Sloan lost his job at the club following an allegedly serious altercation with senior club staff at a Christmas function last year, although he says he lost his job after blowing the whistle at alleged club malpractice.

No doubt the full details will come out over the next week or so, but it got us at Thomas Mansfield thinking about what Christmas party tales we might come across this year. We thought highlighting a few past classics might make a welcome addition to our newsletter's drier legal content!

Probably the most memorable case we came across was one where an employee was returning to the dinner table with a tray of vodka shots, but having already had one too many she tripped as she approached the table spilling the tray of vodka shots over her boss and the candles that were on the table.  Not too bad you may think, except that the combination of these events at once set her boss on fire, singeing his eyebrows and reducing her bonus all in one fell swoop. Ouch!

Then there is the case where after a few too many drinks (again!), a guy fell off the table he was dancing on and while apparently fine for the rest of the party, the next day he couldn't move and was signed off work for two weeks with whiplash. It is incidents like this that caused recent research to put the cost to British firms of over indulgence in the festive season at around £100 million, as a result of low productivity and time off over this period.

The MD failed to see the funny side at a Christmas party that took place in a Greek restaurant.  Unfortunately the HR Manager had not realised when seeing plates smashed in the pre-meal show, that you are supposed to use specially supplied plates for this, and proceeded to smash the MD on the head with a proper dinner plate, causing cuts and quite a large headache.

What most employees have to hope for is that it is the boss who embarrasses himself, like the one who performed the 'Right Said Fred' stripping routine at the office party.  No doubt it was refreshing for his office the following day when he was the one acting sheepish rather than them.

Finally, a story, which always produces a smile, is the office party where a rather large gentleman decided to photocopy his backside.  What started as a quick laugh descended into pain as he heard a crack and realised the glass cover had broken, trapping him inside the photocopier with shards of glass sticking into him.  While undoubtedly there were grounds for a disciplinary in this case having broken such an expensive piece of machinery, the laughs which he gave the entire office while they waited for the ambulance to arrive and remove him fortunately saved his job.

Most of the above incidents happened prior to the explosion of social networking, so we can only imagine all the additional issues we are likely to be asked about when incidents like the above ones start being captured and posted on Facebook, twitter and the like!