Is my business responsible if my employee steals from a client?

UPDATED: May 20, 2012

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Is my business responsible if my employee steals from a client?

I run an emergency roadside business.One of my employees went and opened a car for a customer who was not the registered owner of the car but a friend.The friend however did identify stuff in the car that was considered as verification. The friend then stole stuff from the car with the help of my employee. The employee handbook clearly states that no one should be allowed into the car without properf proof of ownership.The owner of the car is holding my company responsible for the theft.Is my business responsible? If yes, what % of the damage would I have to pay?

Asked on May 20, 2012 under Business Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You should not be responsible for the employee's actions, unless you had some warning that this employee would or might engage in criminal acts, in which case you could be responsible owing to your failure to take reasonable steps (e.g. terminating him or her) to prevent the theft. Otherwise, an employer is not responsible for criminal actions of his or her employees which are not part of the employee's responsibilities or otherwise directed by the employer; the law does not make one person (including LLCs and corporations, which are treated like people for this purpose) responsible or liable for the criminal actions of another unless there was some wrongdoing, including negligence or carelessness, on the first person's/business's part.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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