Is An Employer Liable for His Supervisor's Actions Not Committed Within the Course and Scope of His Employment ?
In Hester v. Church's Fried Chicken (1986), 27 Ohio App.3d 74, 27 Ohio B. 93, 499 N.E.2d 923, a supervisor flew into a fit of rage and physically assaulted an employee under his charge.
The First District Court of Appeals held that no liability could attach to the employer under the doctrine of respondeat superior because the supervisor's tortious conduct was not committed within the course and scope of his employment.
The court explained:
The assault in question followed an attempt by the tortfeasor to reprimand one of the employees under his supervision for what he apparently regarded as an instance of unsatisfactory job performance.
It began harmlessly enough with several disparaging remarks about the employee's personal life, but ended only moments later in a fit of rage when the tortfeasor grabbed the employee by her collar, threw her to the ground and kicked her in the back.
Although it may be said on the state of this record that the tortfeasor had the authority to engage in limited forms of disciplinary action in accordance with the established policies of his employer, there is nothing to controvert the employer's evidence that such authority did not extend to the unprovoked use of physical violence against a fellow employee; nor is there any tenable factual basis to support a finding that the tortfeasor's actions apart from the initial reprimand were ratified by his employer.
In our view, the only reasonable conclusion to be drawn from the evidence is that the tortfeasor simply lost his temper and was motivated to commit the assault solely out of feelings of personal ill will and malice harbored against his victim. Id. at 75.