CACI No. 3722. Scope of Employment - Unauthorized Acts

Judicial Council of California Civil Jury Instructions (2023 edition)

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3722.Scope of Employment - Unauthorized Acts
An employee’s unauthorized conduct may be within the scope of
[employment/authorization] if [the conduct was committed in the course
of a series of acts authorized by the employer] [or] [the conduct arose
from a risk inherent in or created by the enterprise].
[An employee’s wrongful or criminal conduct may be within the scope of
employment even if it breaks a company rule or does not benefit the
New September 2003
Sources and Authority
“[T]he employers liability extends beyond his actual or possible control of the
employee to include risks inherent in or created by the enterprise.” (Perez v. Van
Groningen & Sons, Inc. (1986) 41 Cal.3d 962, 968 [227 Cal.Rptr. 106, 719 P.2d
“The fact that an employee is not engaged in the ultimate object of his
employment at the time of his wrongful act does not preclude attribution of
liability to an employer . . . . [T]he proper inquiry is not whether the wrongful
act itself was authorized but whether it was committed in the course of a series
of acts of the agent which were authorized by the principal.” (Mary M. v. City of
Los Angeles (1991) 54 Cal.3d 202, 219 [285 Cal.Rptr. 99, 814 P.2d 1341],
internal citations omitted.)
“Tortious conduct that violates an employee’s official duties or disregards the
employers express orders may nonetheless be within the scope of employment.
So may acts that do not benefit the employer, or are willful or malicious in
nature.” (Mary M., supra, 54 Cal.3d at p. 209, internal citations omitted.)
“Equally well established, if somewhat surprising on first encounter, . . . that an
employee’s willful, malicious and even criminal torts may fall within the scope
of his or her employment for purposes of respondeat superior, even though the
employer has not authorized the employee to commit crimes or intentional torts.”
(Lisa M. v. Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital (1995) 12 Cal.4th 291,
296-297 [48 Cal.Rptr.2d 510, 907 P.2d 358], internal citations omitted.)
“California no longer follows the traditional rule that an employee’s actions are
within the scope of employment only if motivated, in whole or part, by a desire
to serve the employers interests . . . . [¶] ‘It is suffıcient . . . if the injury
resulted from a dispute arising out of the employment . . . . “It is not necessary
that the assault should have been made ‘as a means, or for the purpose of
performing the work he (the employee) was employed to do.’ (Lisa M.,
supra, 12 Cal.4th at p. 297, original italics, internal citations omitted.)
“Although an employee’s willful, malicious, and even criminal torts may fall
within the scope of employment, ‘an employer is not strictly liable for all actions
of its employees during working hours.’ For the employer to be liable for an
intentional tort, the employee’s act must have a ‘causal nexus to the employee’s
work.’ Courts have used various terms to describe this causal nexus: the incident
leading to the injury must be an “outgrowth” of the employment; the risk of
tortious injury must be ‘inherent in the working environment’ ’; the risk
must be ‘typical’ or ‘broadly incidental’ to the employers business;
the tort was “a generally foreseeable consequence” of the employers
business.” (Montague v. AMN Healthcare, Inc. (2014) 223 Cal.App.4th 1515,
1521 [168 Cal.Rptr.3d 123], internal citations omitted.)
“The question, then, is whether an employee’s physical eruption, stemming from
his interaction with a customer, is a predictable risk of retail employment. Our
Supreme Court has suggested it may well be: ‘Flare-ups, frustrations, and
disagreements among employees are commonplace in the workplace and may
lead to “physical act[s] of aggression.” In bringing [people] together, work
brings [personal] qualities together, causes frictions between them, creates
occasions for lapses into carelessness, and for fun-making and emotional
flareup . . . . These expressions of human nature are incidents inseparable from
working together. They involve risks of injury and these risks are inherent in the
working environment.’ (Flores v. AutoZone West, Inc. (2008) 161 Cal.App.4th
373, 381 [74 Cal.Rptr.3d 178], internal citations omitted.)
“Sexual assaults are not per se beyond the scope of employment. But courts
have rarely held an employee’s sexual assault or sexual harassment of a third
party falls within the scope of employment.” (Daza v. Los Angeles Community
College Dist. (2016) 247 Cal.App.4th 260, 268 [202 Cal.Rptr.3d 115], internal
citations omitted.)
Secondary Sources
3 Witkin, Summary of California Law (11th ed. 2017) Agency and Employment,
§§ 196-201
1 Levy et al., California Torts, Ch. 8, Vicarious Liability, § 8.03[3][d], [f] (Matthew
2 California Employment Law, Ch. 30, Employers’ Tort Liability to Third Parties for
Conduct of Employees, § 30.05 (Matthew Bender)
21 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 248, Employers Liability for
Employee’s Torts, § 248.16 (Matthew Bender)
37 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 427, Principal and Agent,
§ 427.22 (Matthew Bender)
California Civil Practice: Torts §§ 3:11-3:12 (Thomson Reuters)

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