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

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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

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 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.


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