Employers have a responsibility to take reasonable and appropriate steps to protect their employees, customers, and members of the public from harm. If an employee commits a crime against someone, such as assault or theft, the employer can be held liable if the employee had a criminal record that should have caused the employer to see that he or she could pose a risk to others.
What Is a Negligent Hiring Lawsuit?
If an employer’s hiring decision leads to a situation in which an employee harms a coworker, customer, or anyone he or she comes into contact with through work, the employer can be subject to a negligent hiring lawsuit. The victim can sue if he or she believes the employer should have known about the employee’s background and that the negative behavior should have been expected based on the employee’s prior conduct.
Fields Where Negligent Hiring Lawsuits Are Most Common
Negligent hiring claims are more common in some fields than others. People who care for dependent children and adults, such as nursing home workers and home health care aides; real estate agents, who have keys and pass-lock combinations; people who work in rental apartments and condominiums and have access to people’s homes; and delivery and maintenance workers have more opportunities to commit crimes than workers in some other professions, so it is especially important for employers who are hiring for those types of positions to conduct background checks to make the best hiring decisions possible.
When an Employer Can Be Sued for Negligent Hiring
State laws vary, but in general an employer can be the subject of a negligent hiring lawsuit if certain criteria are met. The person who harmed another must be employed by the company and must be guilty of injuring the other person. The employer either must have had knowledge of the employee’s likelihood to do harm, or should have obtained that knowledge through a background check. The employer must not have taken reasonable steps, including a background check, to learn about the employee’s record.
How to Protect Your Business from Negligent Hiring Lawsuits
Employers can avoid negligent hiring lawsuits by conducting pre-employment background checks on employees. Employers should also check job applicants’ education, prior employment, and references. Drug screening and a physical may be appropriate in some circumstances. A credit check or a check of driving records may also be appropriate in occupations where the person will be handling money or driving a vehicle. An employer should ask questions about gaps in employment or several jobs in a short period of time and verify the applicant’s answers.
Conduct Background Checks in Compliance with the Law
Employers should conduct background checks on all employees but should be careful not to discriminate. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and state laws place some limitations on how information on prior convictions can influence hiring decisions. All candidates for the same job should go through the same background check. A candidate should only be disqualified for a position based on a background check if there is a clear connection between the background check and the requirements of the job. Employers should also be aware of and careful to follow state and local laws that apply to them.
Contact DataCheck for Background Check Services
If you are hiring employees, you should conduct background checks. Thorough background checks are necessary to protect your company from negligent hiring lawsuits. DataCheck has helped businesses all over the United States conduct background checks on job applicants in compliance with state and local laws. Contact us today so we can help your company.