If I am a small business owner, am I responsible for my employees’ actions while they are in uniform on the clock?

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If I am a small business owner, am I responsible for my employees’ actions while they are in uniform on the clock?

I own a restaurant and 1 of my servers is selling essential oils that she makes to my customers. She’s claiming that they will help with whatever ailments they have. She does this while she is on the clock in uniform. Is this grounds for termination?

Asked on September 27, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Unless this server has an employment contract or union agreement, they are an "at will" worker. This means that they can be terminated for any reason or no reason at all, with or without notice. The fact is that most most businesses can set the conditions of the workplace much as it sees fit (absent some form of legally actionable discrimination). As to whether or not you may face liability since this employee is selling these oils at your place of business while she in on duty and in uniform, an agrument could be made that she is acting as your "agent". Accordingly, at the very least, you should prohibit her from selling these items on your premises to as to negate potential liability on your part.


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