When Employers Can Be Held Vicariously Liable for Criminal Acts of Employees

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It is essential for an employer to fully understand vicarious liability so that the business and those working for it are not to blame when an employee commits acts of illegal activity. However, there are certain instances where the company cannot avoid the unlawful behavior, and then it is about keeping the entity as clean as possible.

Companies often have dozens to hundreds of employees that are accountable for their own actions. However, they are also held to contracts for behavior and activity. Unfortunately, in the eyes of the law, the employee’s responsibility in vicarious liability could transfer to the employer during his or her employment or while he or she is working within the building. No matter whether the supervisor or manager means to cause legal harm in any manner, the workers could cause the company or these individuals legal responsibility for their crimes. It is important that the employer understand this liability to avoid severe potential problems.

Sharing the Results of Behavior

Both employers and employees share the positive and negative aspects and results of the behavior while working for or at the company. While the supervisor or manager may receive benefits for the good activity an employee completes, he or she is also accountable for the bad actions. This legal liability could lead to an investigation for criminal charges. Additionally, the company could become responsible for any injury to another person through the actions of the employee. This transferred liability leads to the employer paying for damages even when the company was not at fault in the situation.

Accidents on the Job

Respondeat superior connect the employer to vicarious liability for negligence and omissions from an employee while he or she is at the office or during his or her employment. In the course of employment is important because the individual must either have authorization for his or her acts from a superior or have a close association to the authorized activity from the employer. This transfer responsibility to the employer in these circumstances. However, the employee is still responsible for his or her own actions as well. The important in these situations is that a worker may cause a job-related problem, but a worker may cause an accident that is unrelated to his or her actual job duties. The latter is usually excluded from these methods.

Detour and Frolic Actions

When an employee is engaging in a detour, this is a deviation from the instructions provided by the employer. However, the activity is still close enough to the instructions given that the employer may still retain liability. A frolic is when the worker is acting on his or her own without any regard to instructions. This may prevent the employer becoming responsible. If the employee takes a company vehicle and uses it for his or her own personal use that leads to an accident, the employer may not become involved in the incident. However, if the worker is acting on direct instructions and takes a detour to get coffee, the employer may hold some or all the liability in these actions.

Some actions that lead to an incident appear unrelated. This is possible when the company provides a benefit such as a tablet. The person may use this tablet for the company with special software. However, if this worker commits fraud or infringes upon intellectual property, the company may become liable for any damages or criminal actions of this employee. However, if certain reasonable measures are taken to prevent this from occurring, vicarious liability may not attach to the incident. This would absolve the company from any liability. The circumstances sometimes do change whether liability transfers to the company from the employee’s actions.

Negligence and Legal Support

Sometimes the employee performs or behaves in some manner that is not within his or her scope of duties. The company may find negligent hiring or retention liability holds in these instances. The worker may commit a criminal act while in the building or performing his or her job tasks. The company held liable for these issues will have an explanation that the employer did not complete due diligence in hiring the individual.

To avoid vicarious liability as much as possible or to mitigate the damage, the company should hire a lawyer practiced in this area of law. To increase chances of keeping liability with the employee, an owner or management needs a legal representative to keep the blame at the employee level.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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