The Court of Appeals decided on Wednesday that an employer does not owe the general public any duty to be sure that an employee is fit to drive home. The case was brought by an injured police officer, Barclay v. Briscoe. A longshoreman returned home after a 22-hour shift on the docks. On his way home he fell asleep at the wheel and crashed head-on into another car.
Had the tired longshoreman been driving somewhere for his employer while on the clock, the employer would have been liable for his negligence. But the employer ordinarily does not get involved in the decision how an employee gets to or from work.
The law goes further and holds that, even if it was predictable or foreseeable that an employee may be fatigued after a physical 22-hour shift, there is no duty to control the after-work conduct of the employee. This rule extends to the situation where employees become inebriated at a company party, and then drive home unsafely.