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Blog  »  May 2015  »  What is Vicarious Liability? - Blog
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May 15

Posted by
Michelle Arkins

What is Vicarious Liability?

Vicarious liability is a form of strict, secondary liability that arises under the common law doctrine of agency – respondeat superior – the responsibility of the superior for the acts of their subordinate, or, in a broader sense, the responsibility of any third party that had the "right, ability or duty to control" the activities of a violator.

How does this affect Employers?

Employers are vicariously liable, for the negligence of the employee because the employee is held to be an agent of the employer. If a negligent act is committed by an employee acting within the general scope of her or his employment, the employer will be held liable for damages.

One such area that employers need to watch out for is bullying and harassment in the workplace. If you read Section 15 of the Employment Equality Act 1998, which is entitled “Vicarious Liability etc” where if an employee bullies a colleague on any one of the nine grounds of discrimination then the employer can be found vicariously liable.

Liability of employers and principals. 15.—(1) Anything done by a person in the course of his or her employment shall, in any proceedings brought under this Act, be treated for the purposes of this Act as done also by that person's employer, whether or not it was done with the employer's knowledge or approval.
(2) Anything done by a person as agent for another person, with the authority (whether express or implied and whether precedent or subsequent) of that other person shall, in any proceedings brought under this Act, be treated for the purposes of this Act as done also by that other person.
(3) In proceedings brought under this Act against an employer in respect of an act alleged to have been done by an employee of the employer, it shall be a defence for the employer to prove that the employer took such steps as were reasonably practicable to prevent the employee—
(a) from doing that act, or
(b) From doing in the course of his or her employment acts of that description.

The compensation explanation of vicarious liability holds that the logic for the doctrine is to ensure that innocent plaintiffs have a solvent individual against whom to bring a claim against and if we look at both the employee and the employer it is more likely to be the employer who is wealthier and/or carries insurance.

If you have no current Bullying and Harassment or Equality Policy in the workplace then just click here and let Bright Contracts handle it for you today!

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