Employees are hired to perform specific job functions for the benefit of their employer and the business they work for. When an employee is acting within the scope and course of their employment, employers may be liable or responsible for the employees’ conduct. This places employers in a particularly precarious position. If an employee does something that is not only offensive but criminal, their employer could be criminally culpable as well.
When an employee performs a criminal act, their employer could be held criminally liable too. However, this liability or culpability only goes so far. An employer would not be responsible for a criminal act an employee does outside of work. If your employee robs a bank on their day off, you obviously cannot be held accountable. However, if the criminal offense takes place in the course and scope of employment, the employer may bear some responsibility.
If you have an employee who you believe has committed a criminal offense in the course of their employment, you should consult with our Utah criminal defense attorneys. To schedule a free legal consultation with our team, call Overson & Bugden at (801) 758-2287.
Employer’s Culpability When an Employee Acts on a Business’ Behalf in Utah
Nearly everything an employee does within the scope of their employment is for the benefit of their employer. Often, the employee is free to perform their job duties with minimal supervision. Their employer trusts them to do their job to the best of their ability. This trust leaves the employee with a lot of room for discretion regarding how to do their job. Should the employee make a bad choice, deliberately or not, their employer may be responsible depending on the steps they take after.
According to § 76-2-204 of the Utah Criminal Code, an employer may be criminally liable or culpable for offensive or criminal conduct by an employee if that conduct is authorized, requested, or otherwise expected by the employer. This could include instances where an employer asks an employee to do something criminal as part of their job. For example, an employer who tells an employee to falsify financial records will be criminally culpable for the employee’s actions.
However, even when this conduct is not directly requested or expected, the employer may still be culpable. If, after discovering the employee’s illegal conduct, the employer does nothing to resolve the problem or otherwise tolerates or accepts the employee’s criminal behavior, they may be responsible. Similarly, if the employer knows of any ongoing criminal conduct by their employee and does nothing to stop it, they can be held criminally culpable. For example, suppose in the previously mentioned example, the employer did not tell the employee to falsify financial records but found out about it later and tolerated it or accepted it. In that case, the employer can still be culpable.
If you believe you might be held responsible for the criminal actions of an employee, get in touch with our Orem criminal defense attorneys today.
Employer’s Culpability for Employee’s Inaction in Utah
Employers may be held criminally responsible for the criminal actions of their employees. This responsibility typically covers an employee’s actions under direct orders from their boss or their own volition. However, an employer may be responsible even if they did not know about the employee’s criminal actions but did nothing to fix it and accepted or tolerated it.
Employers may be responsible for the inaction or omission of action of their employees if such an omission would constitute a criminal offense. If an employee’s failure to act constitutes an omission to perform a particular affirmative duty that is legally imposed on businesses or corporations, the business itself may also be held criminally liable.
For example, it may be an employee’s job to maintain legally required insurance for their employer. If they fail to maintain the insurance, this failure may constitute a crime because the insurance is a legal requirement. Operating without it will be a criminal offense and the employer could be held responsible. This may also come up in cases where employees were so careless in their jobs that their failure to perform rises to the level of criminal negligence.
To determine if you can be held responsible for your employee’s failure to perform their legally required duties, contact our St. George criminal defense lawyers right away.
Liability of Employers for Intentional Criminal Acts of Employees in Utah
Sometimes, employees may commit intentional criminal acts at work. For example, an employee could become very upset or angry and physically attack a customer or client. An employee’s intentional crime, like assault, is unlikely to be attributed to an employer because such a crime is not part of an employee’s job.
Under the legal doctrine of respondeat superior, an employer can be held liable for their employee’s actions if certain conditions are met. Generally, the principle of respondeat superior does not extend to intentional criminal acts or torts committed by an employee. In fact, to be held responsible, the employee’s actions must be in the course and scope of their employment.
For example, after their shift ends, if a restaurant server stays at the restaurant and has too much to drink before getting into a bar fight with a customer, the restaurant would probably not be responsible. The actions of the employee had no bearing on their work or employment with the restaurant. However, different employment liability theories may make an employer liable for the criminal actions of their employee.
For example, if an employee set fire to a business competitor’s storefront in an attempt to eliminate competition, an employer could be held criminally responsible if they knew about the fire and did nothing about it. The employer would benefit from the employee’s crime because they have less business competition. Such a benefit cannot be permitted. Contact our Taylorsville criminal defense attorneys for more information.
Contact Our Utah Employment Law Attorneys for a Consultation
If you believe one of your employees has engaged in some criminal activity in the course of their job duties, you may be criminally culpable. Speak to our Utah employment law attorneys about your case today. Call Overson & Bugden at (801) 758-2287.