Two cases were heard together by the Court of Appeal to consider the question of an employer’s vicarious liability for its violent employee.

In the first case, the Court of Appeal found that the employer was not liable.  In this instance a manager phoned an employee at home and asked him to work a night shift.  The employee cycled into work drunk and attacked the manager.  The assault was found to be unconnected to the employee’s employment.

In the second instance, a manager sought to assist a fellow employee with a task and the employee responded violently by throwing the manager onto a table, causing him an injury.  It was found that the possibility of violence was inherent in the factory environment and the employer was held vicariously liable. 

Key point – employers should be aware of their potential liability and should ensure that appropriate procedures are in place in order to reduce the risk of such an event.  Any act of violence should be taken seriously and disciplinary action should be taken.

Weddall v Barchester Healthcare; Wallbank v Wallbank Fox Designs Ltd (2012)