Should a Business Have Civil Liability for the Criminal Acts of Its Employees?

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Should A Business Have Civil Liability for the Criminal Acts of Its Employees?

A business should have civil liability for the criminal acts of its employees when the criminal acts are done in connection with the employee performing work for the company. This includes acts that were both known and unknown by the employer. Vicarious liability and respondeat superior are two large factors in businesses being liable for their employees, and it is vital to understand what does and doesn’t fall under these doctrines. Businesses have a duty of care to hire, train, supervise, and retain employees that are responsible and ethical members of society; if an employee commits a criminal act while representing the business, then the employer has breached its duty of care. Employees represent the business they work for, and a business reaps benefits of its employees as far as sales and goodwill are considered, therefore the business should be held responsible for its employee’s acts because the employee is acting on behalf of the business (“Defining an employer’s duty of care,” n.d.).

There are a few key reasons that a business should have civil liability for the criminal acts of its employees. Imposing liability on a business may give it an incentive to invest in higher standards for hiring, supervision, and retention of its employees to prevent these crimes from occurring. From a firm’s standpoint, it is much more favorable investing in the hiring and training of employees rather than paying for legal fees resulting from a lawsuit. Additionally, liability on a business-level has an added benefit of allowing the government to simply penalize the firm for breach of duty of care instead of investing its resources into monitoring every company’s hiring and retention decision individually (Fischel, 1996).

Vicarious liability is a theory that assigns legal liability for…...

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