Liability for Employee Misconduct

November 5, 2018

Agency is a legal doctrine that imputes liability to the employer for acts or omissions of its employees which occurred during the scope of their duties. Your staff should understand the policies of your practice with regard to patient care, and those policies should be set forth in an employee handbook or policy manual. Ignorance of your employees' acts is not a defense, and does not excuse or eliminate your legal liability.  

 

Such principles involve claims by patients as well as claims by employees and contractors (for harassment or discrimination, among others). You can even be held liable for harassment by a vendor or contractor, as it is your legal obligation to provide a workplace free from harassment and discrimination.  You should promptly address any complaints that arise: your response may including counseling, further training (verified by an outside agency), disciplinary action and even termination. Quick action by the employer is important to your defense of any such claims. Further, it is important to document your actions with respect to such matters, as the timing and manner of addressing such complaints will be critical in any action for wrongful termination by a former employee.  

 

As an employer, you also have legal obligations with respect to labor law matters, wage and hour matters, and discrimination. Certain employees may raise issues concerning pay, work hours, their job duties, and their benefits. All of these matters should be covered by a comprehensive and current employee handbook and policy manual.

 

You also need to be vigilant about subversive employee conduct, including theft of medical and cosmetic products, failure to charge patients for services provided, theft of patient information and office business practices, and even embezzlement. Consult an experienced attorney for advice on both risk mitigation and the most appropriate response to any incidents that may occur in your practice.

 

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