Employer Liability | LabourBlawg

Employer Liability

by Andrew Miller on December 4, 2012

Employer liability basically holds a company liable for any misconduct, harm or malice caused by your employees, whether they are inflicted on customers, coworkers or even complete strangers. An employer is held legally responsible for any wrongdoing done by an employee who is acting within the scope of employment. Basically, the employer can be held liable if the employee was acting on their behalf, carrying out company business or doing their job while the victim was harmed.

This rule is very simple and can be compared to parents being held responsible for their children’s bad behavior. An employer has a duty to the public, to its own employees and to the community to employ reputable and honest workers. If this employee is acting on behalf of the business and is being asked to risk injuring another party, the company should be held liable. If the employee was acting out of purely personal motives, however, an employer may not be responsible. Here are a few examples; we’ll take the responsibility of a car accident:

1)      A pizza parlor offers a 30 minute delivery guarantee on all orders under $50. If the driver is late, they are penalized at work, which makes them drive faster and more careless to avoid the penalty. If the pizza driver gets into an accident because of the 30-minute delivery guarantee, the company can be held liable

2)      A sales company gives employees access to company cars during the 9-5 hours of the work week to visit potential clients. One employee decides on a Friday to borrow the car for the weekend without permission and gets into an accident. This employee acted in his own interest and would likely be held responsible for not only the accident, but taking the company car off hours.

3)      A moving truck for a company has been neglected by both employee and employer, and when the brakes malfunction, the truck causes an accident. This may seem like a gray area, but the ultimate responsibility would fall on the employer for not making sure their employee was keeping up with the truck. The safety of the vehicle is their responsibility.

If your company is sued based on the wrongdoing of an employee, your victim won’t have to prove that you should have known the employee would have caused them harm. If the employee caused injury while acting in the scope of employment (take the example of the moving truck, simply driving from one location to another) then the responsibility falls on the employer.

There is a different legal theory under employer liability as well, called ‘”negligent hiring” or “negligent retention,” which accuses an employer of hiring or keeping an employee that is a potential danger to coworkers, customers and strangers. This rule can actually extend outside of the scope of employment and can even be used to hold an employer responsible for employees’ violent crimes while working. This theory of employer liability is harder to prove, since the employer had to know (or should have known) that this applicant or employee was unfit for the job or a danger to the community. An example of negligent hiring would be hiring a daycare employee without running a criminal background check.


The Joye Law Firm has over 110 combine years of litigation experience.  Joye Law Firm specializes in a variety of Liability claims and should be contacted immediately if you have been a victim or suffered property damage as a result an employer’s negligence of their employees.

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