Negligence in employment may also be referred to as workplace negligence. It is an area of law that allows an employer to be held responsible for the actions of an employee that causes injury to another individual.
Workplace negligence may occur when an employer acts in a negligent manner by allowing an employee to take a certain position or perform a certain task. The concept of negligence in the context of employment has principles similar to negligent entrustment and vicarious liability. Although, there are different principles of negligence at work from those types of violations.
An employer that is found liable for negligence in employment can face various legal consequences, including being required to pay the injured party damages in order to compensate them for injuries or losses. Additionally, if negligence is widespread throughout a business, the court may require a company to revise its employment policies and handbooks.
Negligent entrustment laws involve:
- Personal injury;
- Tort laws;
These laws address injuries that result from employers placing dangerous items or instruments in the care of an employee, and the conduct of that employee results in injury to another individual. One common example of negligent entrustment occurs when a supervisor allows an employee to drive a company vehicle.
If a third party is injured by the employee who is driving the company vehicle, the injured party may be able to file a lawsuit for negligent entrustment. It is typically necessary to show that the employer should not have entrusted the employee with the property that they, or the employer, had reason to know that they should not have given the employee access to the property.
It is important to note that negligent entrustment laws will overlap with many other types of laws. Including:
- Vicarious liability laws;
- Respondeat superior concepts;
- Certain criminal laws.
There are certain cases when employers may be held liable for employee negligence at work. This is called vicarious liability or imputed liability.
This legal concept refers to holding an individual liable for the actions of another individual. This term is commonly associated with the employee-employer relationship in employment law.
Vicarious liability arises when an employee engages in negligent acts that are considered to be unlawful and cause harm while they are on the job. So long as the action is taken in the course of employment and in the scope of the employee’s job, vicarious liability may apply.
This means that an employer can be held legally responsible for the damages or injuries that result from the negligent actions of the employee. The purpose of this legal concept is to permit injured individuals to sue employers instead of employees because employers are more likely to have more financial resources.
Under this legal theory, although the employee caused the harm, the victim can collect a larger amount of damages at the expense of their employer. There are certain situations where employers may be held vicariously liable for their employee’s actions, including when:
- An employer knowingly hires an employee that is unqualified and who causes harm as a result of their lack of skills;
- An employee was or became unfit, either mentally or physically, for a position, and a supervisor was aware of it but allowed them to continue working anyway;
- The employer fails to provide adequate supervision of an employee, which leads to an injury;
- The employer either does not have any policies or procedures, or they have insufficient policies or procedures in place, which resulted in significant damages or injuries occurring;
- An employer is aware of harassment that is occurring in the workplace but does nothing to prevent, stop, or correct the harmful behavior; and
- The employer fails to properly train or direct an employee regarding their assigned job duties, which results in injuries or damages.
These are just a few examples of when an employer may potentially be held vicariously liable for the actions of an employee. Another form of negligence that often arises in employment settings is negligent supervision.