Employer Vicarious Liability for Employee Conduct

An employer’s responsibility for employee conduct is a hot topic these days with the Supreme Court of Canada speaking repeatedly to the point over the last several years.

Two recent decisions dealing with an employer’s vicarious liability are Blackwater v. Plint, [2005] SCC 60 and E.B. v. Order of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in the Province of British Columbia, [2005] SCC 58. The cases are based on the very unfortunate residential school abuse scenario. The underlying theory of the cases being that there has to be a significant connection between the perpetrator’s job/authorized conduct and the misconduct to warrant a finding of employer vicarious liability.

These two cases follow on the heels of:

Those cases deal with the various permutations of vicarious liability, breach of fiduciary duties, negligence, statutory defences, non-delegable duties and liability for the acts of independent contractors.

Compare then the approach taken in Dunn, Lisa v. Washington City Hospital (05-1277), a recent decision of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeal. This case deals with an independent contractor’s sexual harassment in the workplace. Better yet you can listen to the oral argument here.

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