Respondeat superior (definition from dictionary.law.com: Latin for ‘let the master answer’, implying vicarious or imputed liability) is a common-law doctrine that makes an employer responsible for the actions of an employee in the course of employment. In other words, when the facts show that an employer-employee (principal-agent) relationship exists, the employer can be held responsible for the injuries caused by the employee in the course of employment.
In general, employee conduct that bears some relationship to the work will usually be considered within the scope of employment… An employee is not necessarily acting outside the scope of employment merely because she does something that she should not do… An employer is liable for harm done by the employee within the scope of employment, whether the act was accidental or reckless. The employer is even responsible for intentional wrongs if they are committed, at least in part, on the employer’s behalf. For example: if a delivery truck driver negligently hits a child in the street, the company for which the driver works will be liable for the injuries.
Thus, it is important for organizations to institute an ethics program that includes an ethics code, ethics training and an ethics hotline.