A state court of appeal found that an employer is not liable for false imprisonment where the employer reported an employee's threat to a person's life to the police, and the police arrested the employee.
Robert Nembhard was employed by the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA). After Nembhard was involved in a physical confrontation with another employee, the employer suspended Nembhard. A formal hearing on Nembhard's suspension was scheduled. Prior to the hearing, a third party reported to the employer that Nembhard threatened to kill a witness.
The employer reported the threat to the city sheriff's department, and the sheriff arrested Nembhard. The threat turned out to be unsubstantiated, and Nembhard was never charged with a crime.
Nembhard sued the employer for false imprisonment, due process violations and emotional distress. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the employer, and Nembhard appealed.
An employer that reports a crime to law enforcement in good faith is not liable for false imprisonment. An arrest based on good faith information is privileged from liability for false imprisonment even where the arrestee did not commit the alleged crime. Further, an employer has the duty to report unlawful threats of violence in order to protect its employees.
The state court of appeal ruled that the employer was not liable for false imprisonment because it reported the alleged threat to the police in good faith. The state court of appeal affirmed the trial court's decision in favor of the employer.
An employer generally owes a duty to protect its employees by reporting unlawful violence or threats of violence. Where the employer's report is based in good faith, the employer may not be held liable for false imprisonment.
Source: Security Law Newsletter, 02/01/2007
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