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What is Negligent Hiring

Tony Curtachio

A company is found negligent in unknowingly hiring a psychotic drug abuser, with a history of violence, who stabbed a customer 25 times.

The owner of an apartment complex is found negligent for hiring a resident manager who used a pass-key to enter an apartment and rape the resident.

A woman embezzles more than $250,000 from three different employers. Although found guilty in each case, she kept getting jobs because no one ever checked her criminal record.

Negligent hiring is an employer’s failure to exercise reasonable caution when choosing an employee. Increasingly, today, courts are holding employers financially and legally responsible for illegal or violent actions taken by employees who were not subjected to reasonable pre-employment screening. In effect, courts are saying that the employer is responsible for what they know and what they should have known about their employees.

Your company can greatly increase its odds of winning a “negligent hiring” lawsuit if it can show that a reasonable effort was made to conduct an applicant background check.

Thorough candidate background checks help protect your company from expensive “negligent hiring” lawsuits, employee theft, embezzlement, and workplace violence. It is completely legal to base a hiring decision on background search information as long as you are not discriminating based on sex, age, race, etc, or are not basing your “no hire” decision on information revealed during the background check that is not relevant to that job.

Regardless of the job you are filling, accepting a candidate’s statements on good faith alone is dangerous. Here are several steps that we suggest you take in screening every applicant you are serious about:

- Never take resume /application information at face value. Always verify the education and employment information that has been given and extend the employer reference checks beyond the applicant’s most recent employer to his last two or three jobs. Look for a pattern that may warn of a chronic problem.

- Search for the applicant’s criminal history. Employees prone to criminal activities tend to commit the same crimes repeatedly.

- Run a consumer credit report, looking for evidence of excessive spending, legal judgements and delinquent accounts. If the candidate is irresponsible in handling his money, imagine how he’ll handle the company’s.


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