Should you Text your Employees When You Know they are Driving ?

A decision by the appellate division of the New Jersey Superior Court earlier this week suggests that the answer is probably: NO!! In a case arising from an auto accident caused by a texting teenager, where the victims sought to hold the teen who sent the text to the driver liable, the Court held that: “the sender of a text message can potentially be liable if an accident is caused by texting, but only if the sender knew or had special reason to know that the recipient would view the text while driving and thus be distracted.” 

While the New Jersey decision in not law in Oregon or Washington, and may be appealed, it should be a reminder to employers that in addition to having a policy that prohibits employees from texting while driving and requires employees to use hands free devices to talk while driving, employers should discourage managers and supervisors from communicating by text with employees at times when the managers/supervisors know the employees are driving. And, depending upon how the New Jersey decision comes out, employers should consider a policy that addresses employee communication by text message when employees are driving.



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