By Jackelyn SeverinA bill that extends dram shop protections passed the House Commerce Committee. South Dakota has a dram shop statute protecting businesses that sell alcohol from civil lawsuits. Currently, businesses are not liable for any property damage, personal injury or death caused by a customer they sell alcohol to. House Bill 1004 extends this protection to include employees who drink on the job without their employer knowing. Tim Dougherty is a lobbyist for the Licensed Beverage Dealers of South Dakota. He says drinking is a personal responsibility and employers should not be held responsible for decisions their employees make. Dougherty says, "I think anybody that owns a business would tell you that, you know it’s not always possible to monitor employees every action. And that you can’t always be aware of all the problems that employees can cause in a business."Opponents of the bill say this essentially allows employers to turn a blind eye to activities of their employees. The bill passed with a vote of 7 to 6 and now moves to the House Floor for further debate.
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