In Pennsylvania, a person or entity that wishes to sell and/or serve intoxicating beverages to its clientele is required to obtain a liquor license issued by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB).  Once the license is issued, the licensee may sell and/or serve intoxicating beverages pursuant to the type of license it has received.  Many establishments will operate under the direction of the owner/licensee through its managers and employees.  Each retail and wholesale establishment is required to designate a manager.  Pursuant to Pennsylvania law, each licensee is responsible for its employees’ actions and conduct while employed at the establishment.  Therefore, it is important for each licensee to carefully hire and properly train its managers and employees as it will be responsible for their actions, whether good or bad.

What this Means for the Licensee

Compliance with Pennsylvania liquor laws is one of the most important aspects of a licensee’s daily business operations.  Responsibility for the actions and conduct of your managers and employees means that a licensee can be held liable for administrative, civil and criminal sanctions and punishment if an employee violates Pennsylvania liquor laws on the licensed premises.  In order to avoid liability, you want your managers and employees to be well trained in compliance with Pennsylvania’s liquor laws.  The first step for a licensee is to carefully hire qualified and responsible managers and employees to work in its establishment.  The next step will be to train your staff in Pennsylvania liquor laws and to recognize behavior in the clientele which could subject the licensee to liability.  For example, your staff should know how to recognize a visibly intoxicated person, and potential drug activity being conducted in or around the licensed premises.  Recognizing these behaviors could mean the avoidance of liability under Pennsylvania’s Dram Shop Act and other laws, and the potential loss of your license.

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