Is a day care center liable for sex abuse by an employee?


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A: In both Pennsylvania and New Jersey, an entity like a school or day care center is not liable for the actions of an employee simply because of the existence of an employer-employee relationship. Unless the act occurred in the course and scope of the employment, i.e., was sanctioned by the employer, the employer will not generally be liable for the actions of the employee.

An example of a situation where an employer would bear liability based on the employment is a delivery company which would be liable for a driver’s negligence in causing a car accident while making a delivery. The negligence of the employee will be attributed to the employer. This is the doctrine of respondeat superior, latin for “let the master answer.”

In the context of criminal activity, which clearly occurs outside the scope of the employment, in order to be able to go after the employer, there must be evidence that the employer’s negligent conduct led to the activity or least increased the risk of the activity. Learn about keeping kids safe from abuse at day care.

In sex abuse cases involving day care employees, the day care center itself will not be liable unless it either knew or should have known about the employee’s acts of sexual abuse and failed to stop it. In a classic day care sex abuse case, common acts of negligence which often result in liability of the day care center include:

  • negligently hiring someone who has a history of abusing children/others,
  • negligently supervising someone, and
  • negligently investigating/reporting a report of sex abuse.

Related day care sex abuse articles:

Day Care & School Sex Abuse Lawyer. Representation by a Former Prosecutor

Firm founder, Brian Kent, is a former sex crimes unit prosecutor who now represents victims of sexual abuse in the civil courts. Read more about PA and NJ sex abuse lawyer Brian Kent here. For more information about day care or school sex abuse cases, click here.

**This website does not provide legal advice. Every case is unique and it is crucial to get a qualified, expert legal opinion prior to making any decisions about your case. See the full disclaimer at the bottom of this page.