Business Law question

Discussion in 'The Late Night Cafe (off-topic)' started by chefross, Sep 11, 2019 at 10:44 AM.

  1. chefross

    chefross

    Messages:
    2,944
    Likes Received:
    497
    Exp:
    Former Chef
    What happens a when customer decides they are going to start making and pouring coffee, clearing and resetting tables, and general staff side work, to the extent that even the owner expects this person to do this regularly?
    What is the liability if this person gets injured?
    Does an oral agreement exist between the customer and owner?
     
  2. chefwriter

    chefwriter

    Messages:
    1,987
    Likes Received:
    512
    Exp:
    Professional Cook
    As far as I know, depending on the state of course, oral agreements aren't worth spit. On the other hand, the customer is there voluntarily. You clearly aren't forcing them to do the work.
    The voluntary part probably eliminates liability but I only know that from cutting my hand badly while working on my sisters' house. I had to pay the bill. I wouldn't assume the same with a business though.
    A call to the Dept. of Labor would probably clear that up but you might find the applicable law on line now. Most governments post all that stuff
     
  3. brianshaw

    brianshaw

    Messages:
    3,493
    Likes Received:
    503
    Exp:
    Former Chef
    I’m not too sure I really understand the scenario, but a business should know their liability for both employees and patrons... and if applicable... volunteers.

    Ask a lawyer... who will probably say there is no valid “oral agreement” in this scenario, oral agreements are not even worth spit despite being legally possible, and a business is potentially liable for anything that happens whether that involves an employee or patron. Gross negligence on one part or the other could make a difference in liability assignment but that would be for a court to decide.

    What does the business ‘s insurance have to say... that matters more than trying to decipher labor/liability/contract law, etc.

    No matter... this sounds like a bad idea from any perspective. What’s the worst that can happen... someone gets injured, insurance denies the claim, and the business gets sued and loses. Unfortunately the worst case is probably exactly what would happen the first and every time something goes wrong in an informal situation like this.

    If nothing ever goes wrong... it’s free labor. But is it worth the risk?
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2019 at 1:47 PM
  4. cheflayne

    cheflayne

    Messages:
    4,470
    Likes Received:
    728
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    implied consent
     
  5. Seoul Food

    Seoul Food

    Messages:
    263
    Likes Received:
    85
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    Are you saying that this is a volunteer or just a regular customer who is doing this acts on their own? If it is a volunteer there is paperwork for it (at least here in NY) but they are still basically considered your employee and you are responsible for them. We are even responsible for workers like contractors that are on the premises. If they are just a customer who is doing things like clean up duty and such I would tell them to stop and mind their own business unless they would like to fill out a job application because I see nothing good coming from this arrangement. The minute they get hurt or do something to a customer the owner is going to be on the hook.
     
    brianshaw and halb like this.
  6. sgsvirgil

    sgsvirgil

    Messages:
    852
    Likes Received:
    506
    Exp:
    Retired Owner/Operator
    What are the details? What state? How long has this been going on?

    The intent of every state's worker's compensation law is to favor the injured worker, which typically includes a very broad and liberal definition of what constitutes an "employer/employee" relationship.

    Based on what you've described, if the person is injured while performing these activities, I think they would be considered for the purposes of Workers' Comp an employee. Generally speaking, most states define an employer/employee relationship as a) the right to hire and fire - can the owner stop the person at any time? Did they choose not to stop them? They let the activity continue; b) Method and manner of payment - did the owner decide what, if anything, the person would receive in exchange for their services.....free meals, discounted pricing etc. OR c) Direction and control - does the owner have the ability to tell the person what to do, how to do it, when to do it and so on?

    Generally speaking, if any one of these elements exists, then, for the purposes of workers' comp, an employer/employee relationship may exist. Again, it depends on the state.

    On the other side of the coin, if the person is injured while performing these activities, AND it is determined that an employer/employee relationship does not exist, then, generally speaking, the person could conceivably sue the owner for his/her injuries. There are limitations and thresholds that would otherwise have to be met depending on the state where this happens. Nevertheless, this situation does create at least some measurable risk for the owner.

    Not for nuthin, but, why doesn't the owner simply hire the person? That would eliminate a metric sh*t ton of potential issues.
     
  7. chefross

    chefross

    Messages:
    2,944
    Likes Received:
    497
    Exp:
    Former Chef
    Thanks for your replies. I do not know any of the details other than what I perceived while at this place as a customer.
    I too agree that nothing good is going to come from this and I'm aghast that the owner is even allowing this to happen.
    No idea how long it's been going on, but heard from people that eat there often, this guy's a retired cop with a bed ridden wife and comes to this place to hang out.
     
  8. brianshaw

    brianshaw

    Messages:
    3,493
    Likes Received:
    503
    Exp:
    Former Chef
    Ahhhh, the “regulars” that hang out... the sign of a dead or dying establishment. TheY forget that the restaurant is a business and treat it like their own kitchen... never really paying their way. All the while the proprietor is going broke. Its not just an accident liability concern most of the time... this is as much a business question as a legal question!