Companies May Be Held Liable for the Actions of Their Telemarketers (Bloomberg BNA)

July 2013

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently issued a ruling with significant implications for any company that hires independent telemarketers to sell its products or services.

Under the ruling, such companies may be held liable—albeit indirectly— for certain violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) committed by independent telemarketers working on their behalf.

The ruling responded to questions referred to the Commission from two lawsuits originating in Federal Court. The suits alleged violations of TCPA for prerecorded or artificial voice telemarketing calls to residences and telemarketing calls to phone numbers registered on the national Do-Not-Call list.

In ruling that companies whose independent telemarketers violated the TCPA could be ‘‘vicariously liable’’ for that conduct, the Commission clarified the notion of indirect liability under the TCPA, as liability for unlawful marketing calls made by a third-party agent on behalf of another entity.