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I'm new to this job and it seems that a company that I work for sued a lot of customers and also many customers sued it. Some customers say to me if you didn't do it now, we're going to sue the company. My reply is like I should follow the instructions of the company and you should wait for few days. So I just follow the instructions regardless of what the customers will do as a consequence.

Today, a customer told me that he will sue me personally as a part of the company. He was also recording my voice to have an evidence. I had to flow the restrictions and the instructions of the company as usual. My question is: Can someone really sue me because I'm an employee in a company? I'm not the owner. I'm just a representative. I'm an intermediate stage between (the owners, the managers, and the different departments) and (the customers).

Let's make things more complicated. I'm not responsible only for delivering the correct message. In the beginning, I said to the customer wrong info because I made a typo while entering his ID into the system (the software). Then, I realized and corrected the info. Now, he has the recording that contains both wrong and correct info. Can he sue me for saying some wrong info to him in the beginning?

I'm giving this case as an example but I'd like to know what happens to something like that in general. I deal with customers from different nationalities so I'd like to know what the international law says about this kind of cases or what most of the laws in the world say bout them. Answers from different countries are accepted as well especially USA.

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Unless you have caused loss to the customer by making the typo, the answer is no.

Obviously, anyone can attempt to sue anyone. However, for the court to accept their claim/charge for processing it needs to fall in one of these buckets:

  • They had a contract with you personally and you were in breach of it — obviously this does not apply in your situation;
  • You committed a crime — looks like this is not the case either;
  • You had a duty of care towards them and committed the tort of negligence. This is what the customer must be referring to — making the typo could be regarded as negligence, especially if it caused actual harm/losses to them.
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    I agree with this answer (+1), except that the tort of negligence would fail. Human error does not equate to negligence, especially since the OP promptly corrected the mistake to the point that the recording (thereby denoting one same interaction) contains (Id.) "both the wrong and the correction information". Scenarios where short-lived mistakes could cause harm/loss are very limited and unlikely to apply to OP's situation. Two such extreme scenarios could be (1) irreversible transactions in financial markets, (2) a heart attack resulting from the inaccurate information given first. – Iñaki Viggers Sep 29 '18 at 15:46
  • Somebody has downvoted this. Please come forward and explain. – Greendrake Sep 30 '18 at 1:50
  • That was me. Your answer is incorrect insofar as it indicates that the OP would be personally liable if he or she had negligently caused a loss to the customer. As discussed below, agency principles would prevent such liability. If you have contrary authority you can point to, I'd be happy to change my vote. There are several other, more minor misstatements of law here, but none that I would normally downvote for. – bdb484 Sep 30 '18 at 20:21
  • @bdb484 The agency principles might help but not necessarily. See Lister v Romford Ice and Cold Storage Co Ltd. Both the employer and employee can be sued jointly and severally. – Greendrake Sep 30 '18 at 22:31
  • I could be mistaken, but my understanding was that Lister was bad law in most jursidictions, having been either implicitly rejected in subsequent cases or explicitly by statute. – bdb484 Oct 1 '18 at 2:15
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The literal answer is yes -- any idiot can sue you for anything he wants to.

More practically, the answer is is no.

  1. Suing someone "personally as a part of the company" is an oxymoron. One names defendants in either their personal capacity or their capacity as an employee of the company.

  2. Even if you were negligent in your handling of his information, and even if you caused some harm to the customer, that error was made within the scope of your employment. Under respondeat superior, any liability that you had would almost certainly flow through to your employer, who would be obligated to both handle your legal expenses and pay for any damages.

This answer relies on principles of agency theory that are generally applicable throughout common law jurisdiction, i.e. United Kingdom, United States, and other former British colonies.

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    I also thought this was true about respondeat superior, but when I go to look it up, I'm only finding statements that say the principle allows the plaintiff to sue both the employer and the employee. I also didn't find anything about obligations of employer to handle legal expenses or damages. Can you provide any references? (As a related question, what happens if employer has gone broke and cannot pay for employee's legal expenses or damages? Is employee back on the hook?) – Nate Eldredge Sep 29 '18 at 14:15
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    I think that's correct. I don't mean to say that the employee couldn't be sued, only that the employee's exposure to legal jeopardy is probably going to be very limited. If an employee in this situation is named in her personal capacity, she's going to be found not liable because she acted as an agent of the employer. If she's sued as an agent of the employer, any judgment against her is just a judgment against the employer. In either case, the employer would be obligated to defend her and pay any judgment. – bdb484 Sep 29 '18 at 14:23

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