Introduction to US Sentencing Guidelines for Organizations

What you’ll learn to do: explain the US Sentencing Guidelines for Organizations and how the compliance steps encourage ethical behavior

An organization can be held criminally liable for the illegal actions of any of its employees even when the act goes against company policy. For example, a slot machine company, ETT, was ordered to pay $8.2 million in damages for the wrongful death of Roja Delgado. A temporary employee driving an ETT van hit Delgado’s car, killing her. At the time of the accident, the ETT driver’s blood-alcohol level was three times the legal limit. The court assigned 75 percent of the fault to ETT and 25 percent to the driver.[1] The Federal Sentencing Guidelines are rules that set out a uniform sentencing policy for individuals and organizations convicted of felonies and serious misdemeanors in the US federal courts system. Chapter eight of the guidelines explains how organizations can reduce their culpability and reduce fines. A company with a strong ethics program is judged less responsible for misbehaving employees. In this section, you’ll learn about the guidelines and how they encourage ethical behavior.

  1. Eglet Wall Christiansen, “Holding Employers Liable for Employee Wrongs,” Legal Resources, accessed July 29, 2017,