Employer's Responsibility For Workplace Violence
by Michael Fox
The Asheville, N.C. Citizen-Times story uses yesterday's tragic shootings in Mississippi as a reminder to employers that under certain circumstances and under the law of certain states, an employer can have responsibility when an employee turns violent. Texas has dealt with exemplary damages for the criminal act of an employee in the Civil Practice and Remedies Code:
41.005. Harm Resulting From Criminal Act
(a) In an action arising from harm resulting from an assault, theft, or other criminal act, a court may not award exemplary damages against a defendant because of the criminal act of another.
(b) The exemption provided by Subsection (a) does not apply if:
(1) the criminal act was committed by an employee of the defendant;
(c) In an action arising out of a criminal act committed by an employee, the employer may be liable for punitive damages but only if:
(1) the principal authorized the doing and the manner of the act;
(2) the agent was unfit and the principal acted with malice in employing or retaining him;
(3) the agent was employed in a managerial capacity and was acting in the scope of employment; or
(4) the employer or a manager of the employer ratified or approved the act.