Liability of Employees

Liability of Employees

Approved by the Joint Committee, December 8, 2008

DISCLAIMER: If there is a discrepancy between this electronic policy and the written copy held by the Policy owner, the written copy prevails.

In recent years there has been an increased involvement of lawyers in the affairs of the University. This has been true of review and appeals processes conducted within the University and of claims and actions originating outside of the University. Legislation such as the Occupational Health and Safety Act affects both the University and its employees and assigns these parties certain legal responsibilities.  If these responsibilities are not properly discharged, these parties could be subject to litigation.  Parties could also be subject to litigation under Bill C-45 which is a federal legislation that amends the Canadian Criminal Code.  This law establishes legal duties for workplace health and safety.

The University carries liability insurance which provides, in most circumstances, for an indemnification of employees and costs and damages arising out of an action relating to their employment duties with the exception of any criminal charges, fines or penalties. The statement which follows has been prepared to provide assurance that in those instances where the University’s general liability policy does not cover employees, the University will normally support such employees as outlined in the following paragraphs.

Employees of McMaster University are expected to exercise their employment duties in conformity with legislation and governmental regulations, in good faith, in a reasonable manner, and in accordance with the policies and guidelines established by the University. The University cannot and does not condone activities by its employees which are illegal, malicious or deliberately contrary to established policies or procedures.

In the event that an employee is named in a claim for damages or other civil suit, or is charged with criminal or quasi-criminal proceedings arising from his or her employment duties both on and off the campus he or she must report the matter to the Manager of Environmental and Occupational Health Support Services and in the case of faculty to the department chair and in the case of staff to the appropriate supervisor. The occurrence will be reviewed by the appropriate vice-president in consultation with the chair or supervisor, dean and the Manager of Environmental and Occupational Health Support Services. Normally the employee will be represented by the University’s legal counsel or other counsel agreed to by the employee and the University will pay the legal costs.

Faculty and staff may be named as respondents in internal tribunals of the University by students. In those cases where the student appellant has legal representation, the respondent may request through the Dean legal support provided by the University. Normally legal support will be authorised by the appropriate vice-president.

Approved by the Joint Committee
December 8, 2008