Remind supervisors: You have duty to prevent customer harm — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

Remind supervisors: You have duty to prevent customer harm

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Employers aren’t just liable for harm that comes to employees while they work. Employers also have to keep customers safe. That duty even includes making sure off-duty employees don’t harm customers if that harm is foreseeable.

Remind managers and supervisors that if they see trouble brewing—even if the employees who are involved have clocked out—they have a duty to intervene and stop things before they get out of hand.

Recent case: Mike Foradori was a 15-year-old customer visiting a Captain D’s fast-food restaurant when an older teen restaurant employee, who was off duty but wearing his uniform, got belligerent. Apparently the employee believed that Foradori was hitting on his girlfriend. Another employee soon joined in, and a restaurant manager told them all to take the disturbance outside.

A third employee then clocked out and went outside with the others. There, the employee who had just clocked out ran at Foradori from behind and punched him in the back of the neck, knocking him unconscious. Foradori then hit the pavement with enough force to break his neck and paralyze him.

Foradori sued the restaurant for negligent supervision and failure to regulate, train, supervise and control its off-duty employees while they were on the premises. A jury awarded Foradori $20 million, and the restaurant appealed.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the verdict. It concluded that the restaurant had a duty to control the employees even if they had clocked out but were still on the premises. (Foradori v. Harris, et al., No. 06-60030, 5th Cir., 2008)

Final note:
Make sure managers know what to do during an altercation. They should have specific instructions on whom to call or how to prevent violence.

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