(Please note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the proceedings.)
6. ABC had the Right to Terminate Smythe at Will
One of the most critical factors has been determined to be the right of the employer to end the service of the employee whenever he sees fit. Press Pub Co. supra, 190 Cal. at 120. Here, there is no doubt that Chan had the authority to terminate Smythe at will. (See Fact No. 14)
Each and every factor outlined in the Restatement 2d of Agency dictates a conclusion that the true relationship between Smythe and ABC from April 2006 through and including the date of the accident at issue here, was one of employer/employee and not one of independent contractor. Because of the financial status of the company, a unique agreement was arrived at between Smythe and Chan, and Smythe was not placed on payroll. Nonetheless, the fact that she was engaged full-time, that she was charged with a wide variety of tasks and duties for the benefit of the company rather than hired for a specific project, the fact that Chan could and did dictate what she was to do and how she was to do it, and the fact that ABC provided her with all instrumentalities necessary for doing the work and, perhaps most importantly, that ABC held her out as president and COO all constitute traits of an employer-employee relationship and not one of independent contractor.
3. SMYTHE WAS IN THE COURSE AND SCOPE OF HER EMPLOYMENT AT THE TIME OF THE ACCIDENT
An employer is vicariously liable for the tortious conduct of its employees committed while the employee is in the course and scope of his or her employment. Rodgers v. Kemper Construction Company (1975) 50 Cal.App.3d 608, 617. The policy is based on an economic rational, with the goal being to place the cost of losses caused by the torts of employees that occur within the conduct of the employer’s enterprise upon the business itself, as a required cost of doing business. Hinman v. Westinghouse Electric Co. (1970) 2 Cal.3d 956, 959-960.
If the employee has substantially deviated from job duties for personal purposes, so as to no longer be considered to be in the course and scope of his employment, then the employer will not be held liable. Le Elder v. Rice (1994) 21 Cal.App.4th 1604, 1607. Whether an employee’s conduct falls within the course and scope of the employment is interpreted broadly, with a policy favoring vicarious liability. Farmers Ins. Group v. County of Santa Clara (1995) 11 Cal. 4th 992, 1004. (See Part 11 of 14.)
For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.