Employer Liability for Employment Violations in the Workplace

The Chance of an Employment Charge 

Lawsuits are scary for all employers, especially those who think it could never happen to them. But employment lawsuits are much more frequent than we think. They happen a lot and, in some states, more than a lot. For example, in 2017, according to Hiscox Insurance, US companies had a 10.5% chance of an employment charge, which is not that bad. But, there are states where the percentages are much higher. The top states that have a 45% to 81% chance of having an employment-related charge are;

  • California – 46%
  • Nevada – 55%
  • New Mexico – 50%
  • Deleware – 55%
  • DC – 81%

The Standard for Employer Liability

The standard for liability – taken from the supreme court ruling in Vance vs. Ball State UniversityBurlington Industries, Inc. v. Ellerth, and Faragher v. City of Boca Raton. 

  1. An employer is always liable for a supervisor’s harassment if it culminates in a tangible employment action. Meaning it made a significant change in employment status.
  2. An employer is vicariously liable for a hostile work environment created by a supervisor. 
  3. An employer is liable for hostile work environment harassment by employees who are not supervisors if the employer was negligent and failed to prevent the harassment.

What Can be Done?

I know it feels like you are liable for everything, and you cannot dodge liability in some cases, but sometimes you can. These rulings also show what a business can do to avoid liability or limit if not eliminate damages. 

  1. An employer must exercise reasonable care to prevent and promptly correct harassing behavior 
  2.  Show that the employee did not take advantage of any preventative or corrective opportunities provided by the employer 
  3. Show proof


It is both the employer’s and employee’s responsibility to recognize and correct violations in the workplace. It must be a team effort to work.

If the employer has an effective complaint procedure that encourages employees to report harassing conduct before it escalates, and if an employee promptly utilizes that procedure, they can usually stop the harassment before actionable harm occurs. Also, an affirmative defense gives credit for preventative efforts by an employer. You can do this!


There is a need for an update on the way companies handle workplace violations—a method to protect companies and employees. 

Well, the update is possible and is available. Mismo firmly believes that you cannot fix what you don’t know. We believe in the importance of employers and employees working together to recognize, report, and help resolve workplace claims before they become a problem. Mismo is the solution and helps companies build a positive work environment for their employees. Protect your business by protecting your employees. 


Mismo is a web-based solution, which provides employers with a pro-active incident reporting system designed to eliminate or reduce employment-related lawsuits and the high cost of damages. Sign up at Mismo.co.