A recent undercover investigative report documented a popular food's chain's speedy delivery promise to their consumers-boasting of their ability to provide their customers with an unbelievably quick delivery service. The undercover report details how several delivery drivers of the fast food chain often ran through red lights, committed illegal U-turns, drove through on-coming traffic amongst other traffic violations in an effort to fulfill that novel delivery promise-and at a hefty cost.
The restaurant chain has been involved in several lawsuits-one involving the death of one motorist and permanent injuries to other motorists costing the chain millions of dollars in legal fees and settlement payouts. Although the lawsuits have been filed in various states and involve different scenarios, the Plaintiffs all have one related grievance-alleging that the food chain encouraged their delivery drivers to deliver foods in an unusually fast manner with disregard towards traffic and safety laws and disregard to fellow motorists. Keep in mind, the suit not only names the food chain's employee in his/her individual capacity but also names the food chain itself under the legal principle of respondeat superior which recognizes that employers are generally responsible for the acts of their employees so long as that employee was acting within the scope of their employee duties.
Whether you operate a small, mid-sized, or large company and have employees that have either very little or heavy company driving time (either their own vehicles or company provided vehicles); there are a few things that you as the employer should take into consideration:
1. Ensure that you have a workplace policy in place that dictates the employee's responsibility of obeying all traffic and safety laws;
2. If you do have a workplace policy in place specific to driving on the clock, make sure that your employees are acknowledging their receipt of that policy and acknowledging their commitment to obey all traffic and safety laws;
3. Ensure proper training and a continued commitment at keeping your employees (both management and staff) aware of their obligations and responsibilities-through your employee handbook and annual mandatory trainings. Failure to provide continuous and adequate training can render your Employee Handbook moot and subject your company to strict liability and punitive damages in the event of a lawsuit;
4. Consider (appropriate) screening of employees who are involved in driving on behalf of the company. Your company has a fiduciary responsibility to employ safe drivers. Ignorance is not a defense.
At Danz & Kronengold, P.L. , we can provide assistance both in updating your current employment handbooks and personnel policies relating to company drivers or drafting Employee Handbooks from scratch tailored specifically to your service industry. We also serve as human resources consultants and can provide on-site HR training as needed for staff and management. Please give us a call at 954-406-7535 or toll free at 866-640-1080 and set up your initial consultation today!