Susanne E. "Susie" Ingold is an experienced commercial litigator whose practice focuses on employment law, general liability and construction-related issues..
Q: As a business owner and employer, am I responsible for the negligent or harmful acts of my employees?
A: In some circumstances, your company may be legally responsible for the negligent acts of its employees. Under the theory known as "vicarious liability," courts have held employers liable for harm or injuries caused by their employees, including harm inflicted on coworkers, customers or total strangers. However, the theory applies only if the employee is acting within the course and scope of their employment. IN other words, the employer will generally be liable if the employee was doing his or her job, carrying out company business, or otherwise acting on the employer's behalf when the incident took place. The purpose behind the rule is to hold employers responsible for the costs of doing business, including the costs of employee carelessness. But where the employee acts independently, outside the scope of their job duties or purely out of personal motives, the employer might not be liable for the employees harmful conduct.