by Laura A
Employer Liability in a Wireless World
In today’s world, the use of cell phones, palm pilots, and other electronic devices have found a significant role in conducting business. A 1997 study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that drivers who talk on cell phones whether handheld or hands-free are four times more likely to have car accidents.
The following are a few lawsuits that came from conducting business in a wireless world.
1. A Miami jury awarded $21 million to a woman who was severely injured by a company’s salesman for a lumbar wholesaler who was negligent due to talking on his cell phone.
2. In Pennsylvania, a stockbroker who was talking on his cell phone en route to a non-business dinner hit and killed a 24 year old on their motorcycle. The firm expected its employees to make cold calls on personal time. The firm was considered negligent because it failed to ensure that its employees were safely using phones while driving.
Employers are advised to implement a policy which prohibits the use of cell phones while driving. This policy will enable an employer to argue that an employee was acting outside of the scope of their authority. In addition to implementation, an employer must enforce it by disciplining employees for violations.
Such requirements should be included:
• Employees familiarize themselves with any applicable state or federal laws governing the use of such devices while driving.
• Employees place the device within reach and understand its features such as voice recognition, speed dial and redial.
• The limit of cell phone use while driving to hands-free operation and encourage the use of voicemail until the employee can safely exit the road and park.
Installing a policy will not prevent a lawsuit, but it will give an employer legitimate and credible defenses should a lawsuit arise.
Stambelos, Patricia (May 2003). Employer liability in a wireless world – Employee Liability. BNET. Retrieved October 8, 2009, from http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0ICC/is_9_71/ai_101859699/