Delaware Vote Tracker

HB 277 – Employer Liability for Sexual Abuse of a Child by an Adult Employee – Passes House

The House has passed House Bill 277, a bill sponsored by State Representative Sean Lynn, by an unanimous vote of 40-0-1. The bill establishes that if a child is abused while the perpetrator is doing his or her job, the employer should be responsible.  The bill is already out of committee in the Senate, so it could be acted on at any time.

The bill “recognizes that in cases of childhood sexual abuse by an employee of a school, organization, or business that serves or cares for children, the perpetrator often has authority and power over the child victim, which can be enabled by the perpetrator’s position in that institution.”

The act also changes the standard of culpability from “gross negligence” to “negligence” for public schools in civil claims based on childhood sexual abuse. 

“Children who are sexually abused by private employer employees (e.g. daycare providers, private schools, etc.) have more protection than children abused by their teachers and coaches at public schools,” the synopsis reads. “There should be one standard of care that holds schools and businesses equally accountable when their recklessness, inattention, or failure to act causes a student to be sexually abused.”

This bill arises out of a horrible result in Bates v. Caesar Rodney Sch. Dist., No. 13, 2021, 2021 Del. LEXIS 315 (Del. Oct. 6, 2021), a case which held that when a student is abused at school by a teacher, the school has no legal responsibility.

House Bill 277 SponsorsYes VotesNo Votes
Lynn, Longhurst, Dorsey Walker, Bennett, Griffith, Heffernan, DukesHouse Passed 40-0-1. Baumbach Bennett Bentz Bolden Friel Bush Carson Chukwuocha Cooke Dorsey-Walker Griffith Heffernan K.Johnson K.Williams Kowalko Lambert Longhurst Lynn Matthews Minor-Brown Morrison Osienski S.Moore Schwartzkopf Wilson-Anton  Briggs King Collins D.Short Dukes Gray Hensley M.Smith Morris Postles Ramone Shupe Smyk Spiegelman Vanderwende YearickAbsent: Mitchell
Poore, Sokola, Sturgeon, Pettyjohn, Richardson
Current Status: Out of Committee in the Senate.

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