While it is true that an employer, as a general rule, will not be held responsible for bad, vicious or negligent acts committed by an employee that are outside the realm of that employee's job responsibilities, there is an important doctrine that is an exception to this rule: negligent hiring and retention.

Under this rule, an employer is duty-bound to show proper care in the supervision and training of its employees to ascertain whether they are capable of doing their work without posing a danger to others. More specifically, the employer can breach this duty in one of two ways:
(1) if the employer fails to use reasonable care to either correct the employee or terminate him despite knowing that the employee has vicious propensities, has a bad disposition or is incompetent; or,
(2) if the employer knows of facts that could - or would - lead a reasonably prudent person to investigate and discover this negative information about the employee (i.e., that he poses a danger to others) yet fails to act upon these facts.

When the employer breaches its duty in one of these two ways, New York law dictates that it can be held liable in negligence for the harm that is caused thereby - even if the employee was not acting within the scope of the employer's authority at the time.
Jonathan Cooper
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Non-Compete, Trade Secret and School Negligence Lawyer