Scope of employment

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The phrase “scope of employment” is a common law concept that often arises in civil litigation, especially in workers’ compensation cases and personal injury cases.  Generally, the scope of employment is the range of activities and conducts that an employee is reasonably expected to perform as part of his or her job.

Texas has a statute that defines scope of employment in the context of labor law litigation. Texas Labor Code Sec. 401.011 defines the term “scope of employment” as an activity of any kind or character that has to do with and originates in the work, business, trade, or profession of the employer and that is performed by an employee. The employee has to be engaged in or about the furtherance of the affairs or business of the employer.  An activity could be within the scope of employment whether it is conducted on the premises of the employer or at other locations.  A Texas court has ruled in ESIS, Inc., Servicing Contractor v. Johnson that course and scope of employment is not limited to the exact moment when the employee reports for work, the moment when the employee’s labors are completed, nor to the place where work is done.  If an injury is the result of an activity that originates from the employment, and is received while the employee is actually engaged in furthering the employer’s business, the injury is deemed to have been sustained within the course and scope of employment. 

In California, an employee’s conduct is a jury in workers’ compensation cases may get the instruction that a conduct is within the scope of employment if: (a) It is reasonably related to the kinds of tasks that the employee was hired to perform; or (b) It is reasonably foreseeable in light of the employer’s business or the employee’s job responsibilities.

[Last updated in April of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]