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Unformatted text preview: re difficult questions presented by these cases
is "What, if any, responsibility does the employer have to try to learn the pertinent facts
concerning his employee's character?" Id. at 1240. The Williams court gave the following
considerations for trial of this issue: (1) what kind of inquiry "would have been
reasonable under the circumstances"; (2) what is the information the employer "would
likely have obtained had it made such inquiry"; and (3) what was "the cost of obtaining
such information." Williams, 386 So.2d at 1241.
Answering the first of these questions, as to the duty of inquiry where an employee is
given the authority to enter the living quarters of others, the Williams court stated the
following rule: 37 If an employer wishes to give an employee the indicia of authority to enter into
the living quarters of others, it has the responsibility of first making some inquiry
with respect to whether it is safe to do so.
Id. at 1240. The court then concluded that the employer, Feather Sound, did [**15] not
carry out this responsibility since it made no effort to contact prior employers and did not
seek advice from the employee's references. The court held, accordingly, that the trial
court should not have granted a summary judgment in favor of the employer. From the
foregoing discussion, we conclude, paraphrasing Williams, 386 So.2d at 1241, that the
ultimate question of liability to be decided is whether it was reasonable for the employer
to permit the employee to perform his job in the light of information about him which the
employer should have known.
Addressing this ultimate issue, appellant presents two basic arguments: first, that
appellant had no legal duty to independently investigate Turner's background because the
job for which he was hired involved only incidental contact with customers; and, second,
appellant contends that, as a matter of law, it met and exceeded its duty to evaluate
Turner for the deliveryman position based upon appellant's actual experience with Turner
in similar jobs. We find these argum...
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- Spring '08