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Can a Company be Sued for Employee Crimes

June 30, 2020

Employers are held legally responsible for their employee’s harmful actions that take place during work hours. It happens even if the employer did not play any role in physical injuries. Courts hold such employers and not employees liable for acts that can cause harm to other employees, customers or strangers at the place of work.

The state law prohibits such because employers are the employees’ director and must be part of the good and the bad that happens in their companies. Also, in case of any harmful actions, the employer is under a legal demand to compensate the victim. Here are the various types of crimes that the employer gets liable for as a result of the employees’ actions.


Workplace harassment by an employee against their colleagues is highly prohibited by federal law and becomes a source of liability to the employer. Most employers continue to face legal lawsuits as a result of workplace harassment among their employees.

The victims get subject to unfavorable situations by their colleagues due to various discrimination acts like age, sex, nationality, disability, genetic information, race, color, and religion. Or when an employee is subject to job discrimination or is part of an investigation under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Workplace harassment is not about offhand comments or a little teasing of colleagues. It involves severe actions that are frequent and have sufficient backing according to the law. The act is considered harmful when it becomes a threat to the workplace and creates a hostile work environment. However, an employer may not be held liable in circumstances where;

• They portrayed reasonable care to aid or prevent the reported harassment
• If the affected employee did not report the incident to the management

Misconduct and Respondeat Superior

The legal theory under respondeat superior means that the employer holds the high authority over the employee and is therefore legally responsible for the employees’ actions to other colleagues. The rule applies under the scope of employment and holds the employer liable. However, if the employee committed the act out of the workplace, the employer may not be held responsible. Here are some instances relating to respondeat superior;

• If an employee hits a pedestrian with a company car outside the work environment, the employer may not be liable since the employee was using the vehicle for personal responsibilities and not work-related

• A group of people in a party order for food delivery from a specific company. The company sends one of its riders to deliver the foodstuff. While on the way, the rider hits a pedestrian. The company will be legally liable for the injury of the pedestrian

• An employee goes out for fieldwork with a company vehicle, and while on the way, the employee picks a phone call from one of the company’s clients who would like to get supplies of products from the company. While discussing on the phone, the employee gets distracted and hits a pedestrian. The company will be held responsible for the accident.

Unprofessional Hiring and Retention

While getting a new staff on board, the company needs to do due diligence to ensure that the new employee has a clean record. When the employer does not conduct a thorough investigation before hiring, the new staff may pose a danger to the colleagues, especially if the employee does not have a clean background record. Some acts outside work environment caused by the employee such as rape, robbery or murder hold the employer liable.

• For instance, a company may be held responsible for retaining a driver who recently acquired a DUI. In the process of hiring the employee, the company should have requested for such details and would be aware that the staff was not the right person to hire, but they still went ahead and employed him or her

• A construction company hires a male worker on a construction site when a lady delivers food to the worker, and she gets assaulted or raped by the man. The company will be held responsible for the action of the employee

Get Legal Advice

Companies need to understand the respondeat superior law regardless of how many employees they have. Getting adequate knowledge will help the employer stay familiar with the legal information concerning the operation of their business and the legal relationship with their employees.



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