Can an Employer be on the Hook for Employees’ Misdeeds?
Employment and Labor Law | As an employer, you may think that your responsibility only extends to acts that you directly carry out. However, it is important to know that you can be liable for the behavior of your employees in certain situations.
Under a legal doctrine called “respondeat superior,” an employer is actually responsible for the actions carried out by his or her employees. Before you panic, note there are two important caveats to this rule. The first is that the actions must take place during job hours and the second is that they must be acting within the scope of their employment. Put another way, the employer is not responsible for things that employees do off-hours or behavior that is not for the purpose of the employment.
There is a simple reason for this employment law, which is that employers are expected to bear the risks of doing business. One of those risks is that employees may make mistakes or other act improperly and this needs to be calculated into their business model. For instance, if an employee is expected to unload trucks as part of their job and they accidently drop one of their loads onto another employee or customer, this is considered foreseeable and an employer will likely be responsible.
However, occasionally an employee will step outside of the scope of his or her employment and commit acts that were not foreseeable. For instance, a fight might break out between employees or an employee may get into an accident with a company car after work. These are both situations in which an employer will likely not be held responsible for its employee’s actions (as long as it can prove that these incidents were not foreseeable).
Employment law is a complex area, and there are many situations in which the law is not very clear. In these situations, consult the experienced California employment law attorneys with Young Wooldridge, LLP. The employment and labor law attorneys can inform you of legal options you may not know you have.
Call 661.327.9661 today for a confidential consultation.
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