While employees can file negligent-hiring and supervision claims when they suffer trauma at the hands of a rude and crude supervisor, such cases rarely end badly for employers. That’s because an employer’s obligation is reasonable and doesn’t require being clairvoyant.
Recent case: Julia Soliz worked in accounting for a doctors’ practice. Her supervisor allegedly yelled at her and called her names. He also told her she’d better not quit because experienced women over age 50 aren’t in demand. Then, the two got into a shouting match over his behavior. He threw a phone at her during the incident.
Both were fired, and Soliz sued for negligent supervision and hiring. But the court refused to let the case go to trial. It reasoned that Texas law holds employers liable for their employees’ acts only if an employee’s conduct creates an unreasonable risk to other employees. (Soliz v. Associates in Medicine, No. H-06-2785, SD TX, 2007)
Final note: If you observe truly outrageous behavior, step in. Angry outbursts and other uncivil behavior don’t help morale. In this case, the employer fired the supervisor after the phone-throwing incident, thus protecting itself from future negligent-supervision and hiring claims.
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