If I am a small business owner, am I responsible for my employees’ actions while they are in uniform on the clock?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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If I am a small business owner, am I responsible for my employees’ actions while they are in uniform on the clock?

I own a restaurant and 1 of my servers is selling essential oils that she makes to my customers. She’s claiming that they will help with whatever ailments they have. She does this while she is on the clock in uniform. Is this grounds for termination?

Asked on September 27, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Unless this server has an employment contract or union agreement, they are an "at will" worker. This means that they can be terminated for any reason or no reason at all, with or without notice. The fact is that most most businesses can set the conditions of the workplace much as it sees fit (absent some form of legally actionable discrimination). As to whether or not you may face liability since this employee is selling these oils at your place of business while she in on duty and in uniform, an agrument could be made that she is acting as your "agent". Accordingly, at the very least, you should prohibit her from selling these items on your premises to as to negate potential liability on your part.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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