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Respondeat Superior



respondeat superior</> is a legal concept which makes an employer or principal responsible for the actions of employees and associates which are committed within the scope of duties. The term comes from the Latin meaning, "let the superior answer."

The intent of the doctrine is to make the employer responsible for making sure that employees can do the job for which they were hired, to train employees in legal and ethical practices, and to supervise employees to make sure they are doing the job correctly. Failure to do any of these tasks means the employer may be liable for the actions of an incompetent employee.

For example, if an accounting manager fails to file the business Quarterly Wage and Tax Summary (Form 941), the employer, not the manager, can be held liable for the fines and penalties. On the other hand, if an employee, while off duty, injures someone, the employer is not responsible since the action is not within the employee's scope of duties.

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