Vicarious Liability at the Office Party

In our previous blog we gave you an example of how a major supermarket was ruled to be vicariously liable for the actions of one of their employees.

It is important from a criminal law point of view, and for avoiding such situations, to make sure employees are properly trained and monitored. From a civil law point of view, there is a direct liability on the employer, unless the employee is doing something completely outside the context of their employment.

Another example of a vicarious liability case in the courts was a small organization that held a Christmas party. During the event, the Managing Director got into an argument with one of the members of staff about a new appointment that had been made. There was some discussion about this and dissatisfaction on behalf of the employee about the new appointment.

The function moved on to a hotel where more drinks were had. The MD called the employees together and laid out in fairly clear terms that he was in charge. He told them that made the recruitment decisions and if they didn’t like it, there was nothing they could do about it. It was his decision, he told them.

At this point, the employee concerned about this recruitment decision got into a further altercation with the MD, who hit and assaulted him. The employee suffered some quite serious injuries.

The issue was whether the employer of the MD, the company, was vicariously liable for his actions. The event took place at a company function, where drinks were paid for by the company. The MD, by calling the employees together to tell them that he was in charge, was metaphorically putting on his “Managing Director’s hat” and acting on behalf of the company. As a result, it was judged that the company was liable for the injuries that he caused.

If you need any more clarification about vicarious liability and how it applies to your organisation and your employees, please call us on 0118 929 9920 or click here to contact us.

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