Negligent hiring, training and supervision cases focus on circumstances where an employer bears the responsibility for the negligent actions of those persons they employ. An employer has a duty to ensure that they properly vet prospective employees in the hiring process, train employees on policies and procedures once hired and supervise those employees to ensure that proper policies and procedures are followed. Negligent acts or omissions committed by employees can often lead to the employer being sued.
These types of negligence cases typically involve a few legal concepts that are important to understand.
The Doctrine of Respondeat Superior
The term respondeat superior simply refers to the legal doctrine that an employer is responsible for the negligent actions and/or inactions of its employees. This doctrine is applied if the employee negligence is committed during the course of employment and the negligent action and/or omission was within the scope of that employee’s employment. This doctrine invokes a couple of analyses and tests that are applied to the fact pattern in order to arrive at whether or not respondeat superior is applicable.
Employee vs. Independent Contractor
The starting point for these cases must be to figure out whether the tortfeasor was actually an employee of the employer you are seeking to hold responsible. During this analysis, several factors which have been established by the Courts are reviewed. Some of the key factors to consider are:
- Whether the position requires full-time work;
- Who creates the work schedule;
- Who directly supervises the work being performed;
- Who decides the method and manner that the work is completed;
- Who sets pay rates and schedule;
- Whether the worker can perform services for competitor businesses;
- Whether the worker needs to obtain permission to perform aspects of the work;
- Who provides the tools necessary to complete the work;
- Whether the worker is required to attend meetings or training sessions;
- Whether the worker must personally perform the work or whether it can be contracted to a third-party.
If the analysis evidences an employer – employee relationship, then the doctrine of Respondeat Superior applies. The Law Firm of Vaughn, Weber & Prakope, PLLC has the team of experienced attorneys that you need to help perform this analysis.
During the Course of Employment
Determining whether the negligent act or omission was committed while the employee was working is the next step in the analysis. This is not as simple as it sounds. There are special rules that define what is considered to be during the course of employment. Instances when the negligence occurs offsite, in transit on the way to or away from a shift and lunch breaks are some of the problematic times. The attorneys at the Law Firm of Vaughn, Weber & Prakope, PLLC are waiting to help answer your questions about what “during the course of employment” means for your case.
Scope of Employment
An employer can only be held responsible for negligent acts or omissions committed by employees that fall within the scope of their employment. In some factual circumstances, this is a black and white analysis. In others, it can be a shade of grey. Attempting to decipher whether the tortfeasor’s negligence was committed in the scope of the employment relationship could require analysis of other legal doctrine including contractual principles. Wading through the complexities involved in these situations requires the assistance of experienced counsel. Call the Law Firm of Vaughn, Weber & Prakope, PLLC at (516) 858-2620 for assistance.