Speed Reads

Tisn't the Season

Free-flowing alcohol is drying up at office holiday parties amid America's sex abuse reckoning

Vox Media isn't having an open bar at its holiday party this year, instead giving each employee two drink tickets, HuffPost reported Friday, and that seems to be part of a larger trend this year as companies try to mitigate the risk of unwanted sexual advances or misadventures among coworkers. Only 49 percent of companies plan to serve any alcohol at their holiday functions, down from a recent high of 62 percent last year, according to a survey by the consulting firm Challenger, Gray, & Christmas.

Many of the companies that are offering free libations are also putting in place some safeguards, a Bloomberg Law survey found — asking bartenders or staff to keep an eye on excessively tippling employees, limiting the numbers of freebies, or putting a time limit on the open bar — and the National Federation of Independent Businesses endorses all those, plus foregoing the mistletoe, which some companies apparently have thought was a good idea.

"As soon as you introduce alcohol at an off-site activity, people's guards are dropped," Ed Yost, manager of employee relations and development for the Society for Human Resource Management, tells The Associated Press. "Some people will drink more than they typically would on a Friday night or a Saturday because it's an open bar or a free cocktail hour."