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Whether an employer is responsible for the damages caused by it’s employee is dependent upon whether the employee is acting at the direction of the employer and within the scope of his employment at the time that he/she hurts someone. “Every person shall be liable for torts committed by his wife, his child, or his servant by his command or in the prosecution and within the scope of his business, whether the same are committed by negligence or voluntarily.” O.C.G.A. § 51-2-2.

In order for an employer to be held liable under the theory of respondeat superior, two elements must be present: “first, the servant must be in furtherance of the master’s business; and, second, he must be acting within the scope of his master’s business.” Piedmont Hosp., Inc. v. Palladino, 276 Ga. 612, 580 S.E.2d 215, 217 (2003) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted).

Doe v. Fulton-DeKalb Hosp. Auth., 628 F.3d 1325, 1333 (11th Cir. 2010).

 “Georgia courts have consistently held that an employer cannot be held liable under respondeat superior for an employee’s sexual misconduct when the alleged acts were not taken in furtherance of the employer’s business and were outside the scope of employment.” Id. (citations omitted); see also Alpharetta First United Methodist Church v. Stewart, 221 Ga.App. 748, 472 S.E.2d 532, 535 (1996) (“[I]t is well settled under Georgia law that an employer is not responsible for the sexual misconduct of an employee.” (citations omitted)). As one Georgia court explained, “[t]he basis for these holdings is that these types of torts, being purely personal in nature, are unrelated to the employee’s duties and, therefore, are outside the scope of employment because they are not in furtherance of the master’s business.” Stewart, 472 S.E.2d at 536 (citations omitted). If an employee commits “an act entirely disconnected from [his master’s business], and injury to another results from the act, the servant may be liable, but the master is not liable.” Palladino, 580 S.E.2d at 217 (quoting Brownlee v. Winn–Dixie Atlanta, Inc., 240 Ga.App. 368, 523 S.E.2d 596, 598 (1999)).

Doe v. Fulton-DeKalb Hosp. Auth., 628 F.3d 1325, 1333 (11th Cir. 2010).

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About the Author

Ben Sessions, Attorney at Sessions Law Group
Ben Sessions

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