In a *recent case before the Supreme Court, Morrisons were found responsible for actions of its employee.
A customer bought a claim against Morrisons. The claim followed on from an incident in which the customer had been physically attacked by a Morrison’s employees. The incident occurred at a Morrisons owned petrol station. The employee was serving customers and an incident ensued resulting in the employee attacking the customer.
Morrisons argued that they should not be held responsible for the way the employee acted. They argued that the employee’s act of attacking the customer was not sufficiently connected to what he was employed to do. The first court hearing the case agreed with Morrisons. As did the Court of Appeal.
The customer appealed all the way up to the Supreme Court. The question the Court had to consider was whether Morrisons could be held liable for the wronging of its employee?
The Supreme Court found that Morrisons was liable. The Court held that there was a sufficient link between the employee’s employment and the wrongdoing. The employee’s duties included serving customers. Although a gross abuse of his position, the attack was in connection with the job the employee was employed to do. As such, the Court held that it was fair for Morrisons, as the employer, to be held liable for the wrongdoing of its employee.
The Court’s decision was a reminder to employers that they may be found liable for the actions of its employees if there is a sufficient link between the employment and the wrongdoing.
Employers can try to reduce the risk of employees acting in such a way by monitoring staff more closely through regular staff reviews. This will help employers identify any behavioural, performance or other issues which may have arisen. Employers are also encouraged to set a clear standard as to what is expected of them through having the right policies in place and undertaking training with staff.