January 28, 2022

Employers Limiting Liability Through Cell Phone Policies

As an employer, you give your employee a Blackberry with the intent that their availability be a phone call or text away. But what happens when your employee is driving, her supervisor calls her, she feels obligated to answer, and in the process of doing so, hits the car in front of her? 4 out of every 5 accidents (80%) are attributed to distracted drivers.

This is yet another way respondeat superior or vicarious liability may implicate employers; negligence by employees that will be passed onto the employers, unless the employer communicates a cell phone policy to its employees. If not, the employee or their family may file a negligence lawsuit against the employer for their injuries, and they might win. A compelling case can be made that the employee felt that they had to answer the phone based on something their boss said. To get around this, a clear cell phone policy, whether the company has provided the cell phones or not, will in effect, allow the employers to escape liability. The following is an example of such a policy:

Due to research that indicates that cell phone use while driving is dangerous, and may even approach the equivalent danger of driving while drunk, according to some studies, your company prohibits employee use of personal cellular phones, either hands on or hands free, or similar devices, for business purposes related in any way to our company, while driving.

We recognize that other distractions occur during driving, however curbing the use of cell phones, while driving, is one way to minimize the risk, for our employees, of accidents. Therefore, you are required to stop your vehicle in a safe location so that you can safely use your cell phone or similar device. Engaging in your company business using a cell phone or similar device while driving is prohibited. Engaging in your company business using a cell phone or similar device that is supplied by the company, or while driving a company-supplied vehicle, while driving, is prohibited.

Employees who violate this policy will be subject to disciplinary actions, up to and including employment termination. (available at humanresources.about.com/)

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