Social Question

nikipedia's avatar

Should this person's work compensate him for a stolen bike?

Asked by nikipedia (27327 points ) January 19th, 2010

My gentleman friend works as a bike delivery person for a restaurant. He often brings his own bike to work as he prefers riding it to the work bikes, and he has no problem letting the other delivery guys use his bike.

Last week, one of the other delivery guys was making a delivery with his bike and the bike was stolen.

The bike is his primary form of transportation, including to and from work. Not having a bike is a serious inconvenience.

Should he be compensated for the stolen bike? If so, by whom and how? What would be a fair way to ask for compensation?

I am especially interested to hear from small business owners. (I personally think the owner of the store, having enjoyed the privilege of using the bike, should offer to replace it.)

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39 Answers

frdelrosario's avatar

That the owner “enjoyed the privilege of using the bike” isn’t relevant. That one of his other employees let it be stolen is — I agree the boss ought to replace the vehicle.

***

Er, never mind. The boss supplied bikes, and the guy chose not to use them? Then I think he screwed himself unless the co-worker offers to cover the loss.

gemiwing's avatar

No, because the employer provided specific bikes for employee use. The employer shouldn’t replace the bike-the coworker who was using it should.

Snarp's avatar

Did the employer ask to use the bike? Sounds like they didn’t. He personally loaned his bike to a coworker, when work bikes were available, that’s his problem. The other employee might owe him a bike, but not his boss.

grumpyfish's avatar

If my car was stolen while I was at work, my work would not cover it. Same’s true of the bike.

The employee who let the bike be stolen is liable for the theft, and should be responsible. Particularly since there are employer provided bikes (as @gemiwing said).

nikipedia's avatar

@grumpyfish: What if your car was stolen while a coworker was using it on business? That’s very different from having your car stolen while you were simply at work. (Either way I guess it’s moot since I assume insurance would cover it.)

marinelife's avatar

1. The employer did not ask for use of his pesonal bike.

2. The employer did not ask him to lend it to another employee.

3. His homeowner insurance policy may cover it.

4. The employee who was using it when it was stolen bears some responsibility for replacing it.

Val123's avatar

Mebee he should consider bike insurance in the future.

If you lent your car to a friend, and it got stolen while they had it, is it really their fault?

Allie's avatar

I don’t think so. The employer made available a company bike for him to use. He chose to use his personal bike instead of the company bike. His own bike is his responsibility.

Snarp's avatar

@Val123 That all depends on how they handled it. Did they lock the doors? Did they leave the keys in it? In the case of the bike did they lock it up? To what? With what?

nikipedia's avatar

@Snarp: No, it wasn’t locked up.

I guess what bothers me is that he did his work a favor by bringing in an extra bike, and he got screwed for doing it. And he’s a good guy, and it’s a shitty job. It seems like the jobs that require the most hard work and bullshit get the least money and respect.

Allie's avatar

@nikipediaIt seems like the jobs that require the most hard work and bullshit get the least money and respect.” Agreed. Kind of sucks, huh?

tinyfaery's avatar

If the company had knowledge of the fact that someone’s personal property was being used on company time, and by other employees, one could argue implied consent. Legally, your friend has a case, but a bike might not be worth the effort and potentially a job.

Maybe your friend can talk to the manager about it. It doesn’t hurt to ask.

Val123's avatar

@Snarp Mmmm. If they were negligent, would their insurance company pay for the car?

Snarp's avatar

@Val123 The tricky thing of course is proving negligence. But I’m getting pronoun overload on the question, could you restate?

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

The nice thing to do would be for the person who borrowed It to replace it. He should have been more responsible with it and locked it up. But I don’t think the business is responsible for it. They provided bikes. He chose to use his own. Not their problem.

Val123's avatar

@Snarp ? Not following you! What did I do wrong?

nikipedia's avatar

@tinyfaery: Interesting take. It was a shitty bike so he doesn’t want to make a big deal out of it. I just wish the owner of the shop would ante up since he benefited from using the bike and pays them such penurious wages he can barely afford to replace it himself.

Snarp's avatar

@Val123 I’m not sure who “they” is. In either case.

If the borrower were negligent, would the borrower’s insurance pay?
If the borrower were negligent, would the owner’s insurance pay?
if the owner were negligent, would the owner’s insurance pay?

But now that I think about it, it doesn’t matter, I frankly don’t know.

Val123's avatar

Well, the thread of the “conversation” was like this:

Me: “If you lent your car to a friend, and it got stolen while they had it, is it really their fault?”

You: “That all depends on how they handled it. Did they lock the doors? Did they leave the keys in it? In the case of the bike did they lock it up? To what? With what?”

Me: “Mmmm. If they were negligent, would their insurance company pay for the car?”

You: “But I’m getting pronoun overload on the question, could you restate?”

Side by side it makes sense.

Snarp's avatar

@Val123 Or at least that I started the pronoun trouble.

Val123's avatar

@Snarp Big trouble in Little Pronoun Town!

grumpyfish's avatar

How about this, becuase the car insurance thing does confuse things.

If my company provides cell phones for our use, but they’re sort of crappy. Someone accidentially picks up my personal cell phone off my desk (which I also use for work) to use, and drops it, breaking it.

Can you expect the company to replace my cell phone? They provide cell phones for employee use exactly to avoid this kind of situation, and the “company” didn’t break my cell phone, another employee did.

nikipedia's avatar

@grumpyfish: I would argue that it’s still not analogous. There’s a big difference between someone accidentally picking up your personal cell phone vs. routinely borrowing your personal cell phone for use sanctioned by the company.

The reason either company provides the tool (cell phone or bike) is not to avoid this situation, but because it is necessary for the business.

grumpyfish's avatar

@nikipedia Good points, however some businesses choose to just compensate people for their cell phones or mileage for cars, rather than providing a business vehicle for the purpose.

My company, specifically, compensates for business minutes above our normal plan useage on cell phones (e.g., if I have 500 free minutes, and use 530 minutes, 20 of those being business calls, they’ll reimburse me for the 20 minutes), and for miles driven (at whatever the IRS reimbursement rate is). However, if I wreck my car (or another employee wrecks my car) on business, the company has no legal obligation to fix it.

oratio's avatar

No, he put his property in liability, but I think the work place should offer him to use their bike out of work until he gets a new one.

nikipedia's avatar

@grumpyfish: I wonder if it’s true that the company has no obligation if you get in an accident on company business. If you get injured on company time, the company is almost certainly liable, right? (Workman’s compensation.)

Val123's avatar

@nikipedia Hm. That’s an interesting comparison. But, out of curiosity, what does your friend’s company say about it?

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

No.He should not be compensated for his poor choices.

Cruiser's avatar

We have a similarly colored issue here at my company with personal vehicles used when salesmen make calls. We are liable as a company if we knowingly request a salesman or employee to make a sales call or run an errand in their personal vehicle. That is why we specifically purchase insurance to cover incidents that may occur during those activities.

Same thing may apply here as I would tend to think the owner of this company knew personal bicycles were being used instead of the company bikes and unless I am missing something here, by not specifically prohibiting the use of personal property while on the job, that business owner could and should be liable. If you think about it a bike was stolen in the execution of that companies business and regardless of who purchased that bike, that owner should incur the loss expense of that incident. Now the owner would have every right to say I will only reimburse for the cost of a company equivalent replacement cost whatever that amount is.

Siren's avatar

I’m with a lot of people on this question.

I feel sympathy for your friend’s loss, but I don’t think his company is liable, because his company can argue that they already provided bikes for company use, and he is at his own risk to use his own vehicle. In my business I believe that is how it is understood. If the company was aware of it, and they had both made legal arrangements (ie company pays for any loss/damage, maintenance, etc.) then I can see a case. However, since nothing may have been put down on paper, I don’t think anyone’s liable on the surface. If there is a way your friend can prove the company sanctioned its use and encouraged it, he could find a way to get his money back. But, as @tinyfaery stated above, might not be worth if it in the long run to keep his job.

Gee, there’s lots of good arguments for and against on this thread! @Cruiser: you make a good argument.

robmandu's avatar

I used to deliver pizza back in school. Almost always, pizza delivery is done using the person’s own car.

If the car is stolen, the pizza shop does not buy the driver a replacement.

Should he be compensated for his stolen bike? Well, maybe. But not by the employer. If your friend has renter’s (or homeowner’s) insurance, then likely his bike is covered (minus any applicable deductible). He just needs to file a claim. [ nods @Marina ]

Even better, find the crook and let that guy pay reparations.

lilikoi's avatar

I think you pose an interesting question. I had a similar situation at my last job where I was berated if I didn’t bring my car to work because they expected me to use my car to run job specific errands. They compensated for mileage, but if someone had stolen my car while at a job site or damaged it while I was running an errand? I can guarantee you they would not have willingly agreed to compensate me for that – but I would probably have looked into taking them to small claims court.

Your friend’s situation is a little different in that he had bikes provided by his employer and chose not to use them. I think in that case, the employer would have warned him that he uses his own bike at his own risk. But maybe @Cruiser is right – maybe the employer does hold some liability there. I’m not sure.

In any case, the easiest way to resolve this problem would probably be to talk to the guy who actually lost the bike. See if that guy is willing to provide compensation. If not, you could talk with a lawyer or start reading the law but this is probably more trouble than it is worth.

casheroo's avatar

I would think the person who had it stoler would somehow have to replace it…someone was borrowing it, right? If my bike was stolen when a friend had it, the least they could do is offer to pay for another one (or at least half). I don’t think the employer themselves would have to though.
So sorry, that sounds really crappy :(

Jeruba's avatar

I’m sorry, but I don’t think the company has any liability. Your friend was foolish to take no precautions and make no arrangement with the company and also to lend his bike to a coworker without any sort of understanding about responsibility and liability. Would he expect to be compensated if it had been stolen when he was using it?

As long as the company provided bikes, I don’t see that they are at fault in any way here. He just used poor judgment. That’s how you learn.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

This is where “neither a borrower or lender be” came from.

If your bike is your sole means of transportation, you need to take care of it. Ride it to work, lock it up, ride the company bikes on the job.

Never lend anything that you cannot afford to lose or not have returned.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Fact from fiction, truth from diction. I am not sure what measures the coworker did to assure the bike did not get stolen. If the coworker did all they could, used a lock, placed it in a public place and it got stolen anyhow he should at least pay half the replacement cost since it did get stolen on his watch be it his fault or not. If he was negligent then he should replace it. The owner of the messenger service is not at fault because the guy chose to use his own bike. He assumed the risk of using it, he could have been hit by a vehicle and his bike ruined and it would not be the fault of the owner. He should have not lent it out if it was that important to him, soft heart can make a soft behind at times.

rooeytoo's avatar

No legal or moral liability on the part of the employer. But if I borrowed anything from someone and then lost it, broke it or had it stolen, I would feel a moral obligation to replace it.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

@nikipedia If you get injured on company time, the company is almost certainly liable, right? If you are physically injured on work time, then workmen’s compensation insurance will cover your medical expenses if you’re injured doing your job, or because of negligence on the part of your employer. It will not cover your medical expenses at work if you’re doing something stupid and get physically injured. (Example of something stupid: Screwing around and having an Exacto knife dart competition, where an exacto knife accidentally misses its mark and gets embedded in someone’s arm.) Workers Compensation will not cover the cost of repairs to your vehicle if your accident occurs in your car, on work time.

In this case, the company provides bicycles for use to perform deliveries. Unless the employer specifically directed your friend to lend his bicycle to his coworker for the delivery because no other bicycles were available, they are not involved in the problem at all.

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