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  • Writer's pictureTommy Sangchompuphen

Quick Tip: Quick Trips and No-So-Quick Trips

When studying for the bar exam or diving into employment law, one key concept you'll encounter is vicarious liability. This legal principle holds employers potentially responsible for the actions of their employees—but only under certain conditions. Today's “Quick Tip” examines two terms that define these conditions: "detour" and "frolic." Understanding these can be the difference between an employer’s liability and an employee’s sole responsibility.

 

Detour: Picture this: an employee is sent to drop off some paperwork for their job and decides to stop for a quick coffee on the way. This slight deviation (a "quick trip") from their route is a detour. It's a minor sidestep from their duties but still within the scope of employment. Employers are generally still on the hook for what happens during a detour.

 

Frolic: Now, imagine an employee who, instead of heading straight to a meeting, decides to visit a friend’s house for an hour. This action is a frolic, a significant departure from any work-related activities. In such cases, the employer usually isn't liable as the employee's actions are far removed from their job responsibilities.

 

I find that law students and bar exam takers sometimes confuse these two terms. Here’s how I keep the two concepts straight:

 

A “detour” is a de minimis deviation. “De minimis” begins with the letter “D,” as does the word “detour.”

 

A “frolic” is a “****-ucking” long deviation. ****-ucking” begins with the letter “F,” as does the word “frolic.”


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