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New York Construction Law Blog

Can you be held liable for your employee’s criminal activity on a construction job?

Posted by Karl Silverberg | Aug 30, 2021 | 0 Comments

As the owner of a construction company, you know that your business could potentially face a lawsuit for any number of things that might go wrong on a project. However, what if a worker on a construction site is accused of committing a crime?

A company can be held liable for damages if the plaintiff can show that it was negligent in hiring, training, supervising, and/or retaining that employee. It's even possible for the owner or other officer of the company to be held personally liable. Let's look at a couple of examples. 

Two legal cases point out the risks

In one case, a person working for a subcontractor was accused of stealing from the owner of the property they were working on. The property owner sued the subcontractor because it was shown that the company knew of the employee's criminal record.

In another case, a carpenter was accused of physically assaulting an employee of another company involved in the project. It was determined that the project owner who had hired the carpenter knew about their history of violence.

What did those at the company know?

Typically, a company or those in positions of authority must have knowledge of a person's criminal history or another history of illegal behavior to face liability. Certainly, there's a case to be made for giving people a chance to earn a living after they've served their time for a criminal offense. However, under New York state law, employers can decline to hire people on the basis of a criminal record if they believe that person could put others at risk of harm.

Having adequate insurance can help protect companies financially if they are successfully held liable for an employee's harm to someone else. Of course, careful hiring practices can help prevent these situations in the first place. If you're facing a lawsuit related to an employee's actions, it's wise to seek legal guidance.

About the Author

Karl Silverberg

Karl Silverberg Contact Me: (631) 778-6077 Email me Practice Areas: Construction Law Biography Prior to law school, Mr. Silverberg worked as a professional engineer, and has eight years of experience working as a structural engineer on public sector transportation projects. Mr. Silver...


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