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Employer liability for murder outside the workplace

Oklahoma companies may be held liable for the negligent acts of their employees under some circumstances. Typically, employers are not held liable for acts by their employees that occur outside of the work environment. However, they could be held liable for acts that are “reasonably foreseeable” even if the harmful acts occur away from the workplace.

In a case that reached the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, Home Depot was denied an appeal of a decision involving the murder of one of its employees committed by a manager who had been reported for his harassment of female employees in the past. The company argued that it should not be held liable because the crime was committed off property. However, the court found that the company had an affirmative duty in its hiring and supervision practices to prevent potential harm to other employees.

In a lawsuit for an act committed based on a theory of negligent hiring practices, the victim must prove that at the time of hiring or retaining an employee, the harm committed was foreseeable based on the employee’s particular unfitness. For example, in a wrongful death case, a company could be held liable for hiring an employee with a violent criminal history or for retaining an employee who had acted with hostility toward other workers.

Wrongful death lawsuits are grounded on negligence just as is the case with a personal injury lawsuit. The surviving family members of a person who has been killed as a result of the negligent or reckless act of another party may want to meet with an attorney who has experience with these matters and who can describe the types of damages that could be sought.