More businesses are adopting “bring your own device” policies, eliminating the need for companies to give employees smartphones and tablets for work-related purposes by allowing them to use their own devices for office and personal tasks.
But as Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor associate Margaret DiBianca explains on The Delaware Employment Law Blog, BYOD policies have risks, including distracted driving. DiBianca says that no matter who owns the device, employers may face liability for an employee who harms someone because of his or her negligent use of a smartphone while driving.
The U.S. Department of Labor has taken a firm stance on the issue, stating: “Employers have a responsibility and legal obligation to have a clear, unequivocal, and enforced policy against texting while driving.”
While DiBianca disputes the “legal obligation” portion, she says it’s a good idea for companies to have a distracted-driving policy in place. For those that don’t, she suggests crafting one based on a sample provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
“Just because it’s the employee’s own device does not mean that the employer won’t be held liable,” she warns, adding that a BYOD workplace is not a defense to a claim of negligence for harm caused by a worker in the course and scope of his or her employment.