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Vicarious Liability

- An employer is responsible for the death of a pedestrian killed by an employee who was returning from a conference, a California court has ruled. The conference constituted a “special errand” under state law making the employer liable for the action of the employee who was sent on that errand.

A Complete Guide to Premises Security Litigation

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Elsewhere in the Courts: Sexual Discrimination

- A federal appeals court has ruled that the only male on a team of female respiratory therapists was not discriminated against when he was fired. The court found that the plaintiff was properly fired for wrongdoing—accessing inappropriate Web sites from a work computer he shared with other employees—and that computer records clearly showed that he was the culprit. (Farr v. St. Francis Hospital, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, No. 08-3203, 2009)

Elsewhere in the Courts: Liability

- A company was not responsible for the injuries caused when one of its employees became intoxicated and caused a traffic accident. Though the employee became drunk during a meeting with his supervisor at a res­taurant, his employer was not responsible for his actions because he was driving home in his own vehicle and was not conducting any job-related duty on behalf of the company. (Lev v. Beverly Enterprises, Massachusetts Appeals Court, No. 08-P-58, 2009)

Premises Liability

- A university student who was assaulted in a parking garage cannot sue the school because the attack was not foreseeable, according to an appeals court ruling. The student, who was attacked by two armed men in a parking garage on campus, sued the school for negligence, claiming that the lack of security and safety precautions led to the attack.

As Layoffs Increase, Retaliation Claims Surge

- Layoffs may be contributing to a surge in retaliation claims filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Elsewhere in the Courts: Sexual Harassment

- An employee who claims that her employer should have known about inappropriate conduct in the workplace may not sue her employer for sexual harassment, according to a federal appeals court. The court ruled that the employee did not report the harassment to a management-level employee, so the company had no way of knowing about the inappropriate behavior. (Huston v. Procter & Gamble, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, No. 07-2799, 2009)

Workplace Violence

- Two recent cases reaffirm an employer’s right to terminate a potentially violent employee. In one case a psychologically disturbed doctor was fired after he threatened to kill his supervisor and coworkers. Another lawsuit involved a teacher who was fired after she declared that she could kill 22 people in front of a host of witnesses, including her 22 students.

Expert Witnesses

- Laboratory reports used in criminal cases may not be used at trial unless scientific experts testify to the validity of the reports, according to a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision. The ruling centered on a defendant’s right to confront his or her accuser under the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Employee Monitoring

- A federal court has ruled that an employee may pursue a lawsuit against his employer over the use of keylogging technology. The technology, used for employee monitoring, might violate federal law, determined the court, if the company’s actions affected interstate commerce.

Nonlethal Weapon Used on Pirates, Deployed in California by Sheriff

- A long range acoustic device, used to fend off Somali pirates, radical environmentalists, and Iraqi insurgents by their adversaries, was deployed by police recently at local political events in California, reports San Diego-based East County Magazine.

Elsewhere in the Courts: Whistleblowers

- Robert MacLean, a former federal air marshal, was fired by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) after he revealed in 2003 that the DHS planned to eliminate air marshals from high-risk flights to save money despite warnings of attempted terrorist incidents aboard aircraft. MacLean filed suit with the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, an administrative panel that conducts hearings into federal employment issues, claiming that he was illegally fired for his whistleblowing activities. The board disagreed, finding that MacLean could not be covered by whistleblower protection statutes because he disclosed sensitive security information. A whistleblower advocacy group says the ruling effectively eviscerates whistleblower protections. (MacLean v. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, No. SF-0752-06-0611-I-2, 2009)  

U.S. Judicial Decisions: Sexual Discrimination

- An employee who was fired after being accused of sexually harassing a coworker can sue his employer for sexual stereotyping, a form of sexual discrimination, according to recent appellate decision. The company did not conduct an investigation into the incident and told the alleged perpetrator that he probably did commit the harassment because he was a man.
 




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