How Liable Should Companies Be for Violent Acts That Are Committed During Work by Their Own Employees?
Employees are considered the front line of a company. Whatever attitude they show a customer, it reflects the whole company they work for. That is why companies are held liable when their employees commit a violent act during work.
If a third party is injured due to an employee’s misbehavior during his/her scope of employment, the employer is held responsible for this act under the respondeat superior doctrine. This legal principle is a Latin phrase for “let the master answer.” Generally, the employee is an agent of the employer, therefore making the acts of an employee the acts of an employer as well. A common example would be that of a truck driver accidentally hitting another individual. Liability could extend to the employer if the driver is driving the truck while on duty.
Employers are also held liable due to negligent hiring or supervision. It is the company’s basic responsibility to check on who they are going to hire. The pre-employment investigation is a must to not only know the person’s capability in doing the job but also to determine if he/she has past criminal records or negative standing in the community. One example would be hiring an individual with a criminal record of sexual assault. If the employee commits a sexual act with a client during work, the employer may be held liable, whether the employer is aware of the employee’s past criminal record or not.
No matter what kind of inappropriate behavior an employee portrays, the employer can be held accountable for it. A third party can file a lawsuit against an employer for the grounds of negligent hiring or supervision, or respondeat superior doctrine. However, all of these can be avoided through thorough pre-employment investigation and appropriate assignment of job role according to the person’s knowledge and skills.
- “Respondeat Superior in Personal Injury Claims.” Hg.org, The Miley Legal Group, www.hg.org/article.asp?id=32965.
- “Respondeat Superior.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 10 Apr. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Respondeat_superior.
- Lype, Bob E. “Employer Liability for Employee Acts.” Bob E. Lype & Associates – Attorneys at Law in Chattanooga, Tennessee, www.lypelaw.com/employer-liability-for-employee-acts.html.
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