Vicarious Liability

Vicarious Liability


Law books

Employers are not only responsible for their own behaviour but, under certain circumstances, they are also responsible for their staff's behaviour. This is known as vicarious liability.

If one of your staff unlawfully discriminates or harasses another, your business can be held responsible. You could be liable unless you can show how you have taken reasonable steps to prevent discrimination and harassment. For example, you could be liable for a claim of discrimination, sexual harassment or victimisation if you:

  • knew about it, or should have known about it
  • did nothing to stop it or prevent it from happening again.

Similarly, if a recruitment agency discriminates unlawfully when recruiting workers for your business or organisation, you could be liable unless the agency was acting against your instructions.

Vicarious liability applies to discrimination or harassment that happens in all work situations including functions, seminars, conferences, office parties, business or field trips.