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Negligence in Employment

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What is Negligence in Employment?

Negligence in employment is an area of law wherein an employer is held responsible for an employee’s acts that cause injury to others.  This can happen if the employer acted negligently in allowing the worker to take a certain position or to perform a particular task.  Negligence in employment shares similar principles as vicarious liability and negligent entrustment, although it’s also different from these violations. 

An employer who is found liable for negligence in employment may face legal consequences, such as being required to pay the victim a damages award for their injuries or losses.  Also, in cases of widespread negligence throughout the business, the court can sometimes require a company to re-draft their employment policies and handbooks.

What are Some Examples of Negligence in Employment?

An employer may be held liable for negligence at many different points in the hiring and employment process.  Some examples of negligence in employment may include:

  • Negligent Hiring- For instance, if a customer was injured because the employer hired a person who lacked the necessary training, credentials, or experience
  • Negligent Retention-  Keeping an employee “on board” when the worker should have been terminated can also create various hazards and risks
  • Negligent Supervision- If the employer breached their duty of care to provide proper supervision of a worker, they may be found liable for any resulting injuries
  • Negligent Training- Haphazard, incomplete training methods and programs can compromise client and customer safety.  It’s important that employers understand the type of training necessary to maintain safe working standards for employees

Some of these types of negligence may be more difficult to trace to the employer than others.  For instance, negligent hiring can often easily be detected if the worker doesn’t have the proper license to perform their tasks.  However, it may be more difficult to trace negligent training to a specific supervisor especially if many different persons actually trained the employee. 

What are the Elements for Proving Negligence in Employment?

The elements for proving negligence in employment are basically the same as for a standard negligence case.  As applied in an employment setting, these elements are:

  • The employer owed the victim a duty of care
  • The duty of care was breached by the employer (for instance, by hiring an unqualified worker);
  • The victim was actually injured (injuries must be calculable)
  • The injury was a result of the employee’s breach

In most cases, it’s the employee who is being held liable for the plaintiff’s injuries.  This is because they were the party that owed the duty of care to the victim.   In some cases, the worker might be held jointly liable along with the employer.  This however may depend on the rules in the jurisdiction.  Also, the worker may incur liability if they knowingly accepted a position without having the necessary qualifications.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with a Claim for Negligence in Employment?

Filing a claim for “negligence in employment” can often require much legal processing and research.  You may need to file with a government agency before filing a lawsuit.  For these types of claims, it is in your best interests to hire a qualified lawyer for help with your case.  Your attorney can perform the necessary research to help you, and can provide you with representation if you need to attend a court proceeding. 

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 02-07-2018 10:43 PM PST

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