When an employer is liable for the actions of their employees
When is an employer liable for the wrongful or unlawful actions of their employees?
Vicarious liability is the responsibility that one person may have for another, based on the relationship of the parties. This is most common in the context of employer-employee relationships. Two conditions must be in existence for a court to consider vicarious liability.
First, there must be an employee-employer relationship between the wrongdoer (also known as the tortfeasor) and the employer, or the party sought to be held vicariously liable. Secondly, the tort, or the wrongdoing, must have been committed in the course of employment.
In order for vicarious liability to be determined, the test referred to as the “Salmond Test”, outlined below must be made out.
Employers are vicariously liable for:
1.Employee acts authorized by the employer
2. Unauthorized acts so connected with the authorized acts that they may be regarded as modes of doing an authorized act
- First, a court should determine whether there are precedents which clearly determine on which side of the line between vicarious liability and no liability the case falls
- Next, it must be determined whether vicarious liability should be imposed in light of the broader policy rationales behind strict liability
This test was applied by the Supreme Court of Canada in the 1999 case of Bazley v Curry where the SCC held that a non-profit organization may be vicariously liable for sexual misconduct by one of its employees.
As referenced in the test, there are a number of public policy rationales for holding employers vicariously liable for the actions of their employees. Such rationales include providing encouragement to employers to implement safety standards and protecting employees.
If you have any concerns regarding your potential liability as an employer, or any other questions relating to employment law, please do not hesitate to contact any of our experienced lawyers.
Legal information appearing in this article and elsewhere on Key Murray Law’s website is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for or replace any legal or other professional advice. If you have specific concerns or a situation in which you require legal advice, you should consult directly with one of our lawyers.