Reckless Endangerment of an Employee: A Proposal in the Wake of Film Recovery Systems to Make the Boss Responsible for His Crimes

This Note argues that the traditional regulatory, civil, and criminal mechanisms are both ineffective and inappropriate to deter or punish corporate decisionmakers for decisions that pose risks to the safety or health of employees in the workplace. The Note proposes a new criminal offense to prevent and punish culpable corporate decisionmaking that results in employee deaths or injuries. Part I explains the novel application of the traditional murder offense in Film Recovery Systems and demonstrates that the case fails to lay the foundation for a standardized response to employee endangerment. Part II analyzes the traditional responses of the regulatory and civil systems to workrelated employee deaths. Because the regulatory and civil mechanisms have proved ineffective in dealing with employee-endangering activities, prosecutors are looking to criminal law solutions. Part III reviews the traditional criminal law mechanisms available to prosecutors and shows why these are inadequate to deter and punish activities that endanger employees. Part IV suggests a statutory solution, the Reckless Endangerment of an Employee Offense, to respond more effectively to corporate decisions that wrongfully endanger the health and safety of employees.