An employer can be vicariously liable for the intentional tortious acts of employees under the theory of respondeat superior if those acts are conducted within the scope of employment.
Appellant filed charges in state court alleging assault, battery, and other torts, after an incident at work with appellee, appellant's supervisor. The matter was removed to federal court, where the magistrate held that appellee was acting within the scope of his employment when he allegedly struck appellant. The federal court then certified the question of whether under Utah law intentional battery was outside the scope of employment.
Is it possible for intentional battery to be within the scope of a person’s employment?
The court first held that the intentional tort of battery was not outside the scope of employment as a matter of law. To determine the question in each individual case, a three-part test applied: the employee's conduct must (1) be of the general kind the employee is employed to perform, (2) occur within the hours of the employee's work and the ordinary spatial boundaries of the employment, and (3) be motivated, at least in part, by the purpose of serving the employer's interest.