Do Your Employees Use Cell Phones for Work While Driving?

Many employers have policies regarding the use of cell phones while driving, including the requirement to use the car’s hands-free, Bluetooth phone system, and abide by all applicable laws. But what happens when an employee still abides by the employer’s policy, is involved in a car accident, and causes injuries to a third party? Can the employer be held liable under the theory of respondeat superior?

Well, it depends on the facts and circumstances of the case. By way of background, respondeat superior means that an employer is vicariously liable for the torts of its employees when these employees commit the wrongful acts within the scope of their employment. California courts have held that the determination of whether an employee has acted within the scope of employment is a question of fact, but it also can be a question of law in circumstances where the facts cannot be disputed and there can be no conflicting inferences possible.

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Hold the Phone! Reimbursing Employees for Cell Phone Use in California

It is well known that employers must reimburse California employees for cell phone use when employees are required to use their personal cell phones for business purposes. Reimbursement is required even if the employee does not actually incur extra expenses as a result of his or her use. However, what is not well understood is how much must be reimbursed.

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