Employers can be held liable for workers’ actions

The Supreme Court has ruled that Morrisons is liable for its employee’s criminal assault

The Supreme Court has ruled that Morrisons should be held liable for the criminal actions of one its employees who racially attacked a customer at one of the supermarket’s petrol stations.

The incident involving a Morrisons member of staff took place in March 2008 at the company’s Small Heath petrol station, in Birmingham, when customer Ahmed Mohamud asked Morrisons employer, Amjid Khan, if he could print off a document for him from his USB stick.

Morrisons liable for employee's actions

Supreme Court rules against Morrisons in difficult case

Khan refused the request and told Mr Mohamud to drive off using “foul, racist and threatening language”. However, once Mr Mohamud was in his car, the Morrisons employer left the petrol station kiosk and went to the victim’s car and punched him in the face and then kicked him repeatedly when he got out of his car.

Ahmed Mohamud, who has since passed away due to unrelated health issues, and his family began a law suit against Morrisons. The High Court and Court of Appeal ruled that Morrisons was not liable for its employee’s actions, but the Supreme Court has decided the opposite, ruling that Morrisons “should be held responsible for their employee’s abuse” of the position “entrusted [to] him”.

This recent ruling by the Supreme Court is a new development in the concept of “vicarious liability” and means that theoretically customers will now find it easier to sue businesses for the actions of their employees.

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