Finding suitable employees involves more than checking previous job experience, education, and skills. The hiring process should also include background checks to ensure that employees who are hired will not put other employees, customers, clients, or members of the general public at risk while on the job. If an accident or incident does occur, company owners are in danger of being accused of negligence in hiring practices. This legal accusation can end up being a very costly one for businesses.
Negligent hiring is a legal claim that individuals who are hurt in some way by an employee can make in order to hold the employer responsible. Under this claim, employers are accused of knowingly hiring employees who might pose a risk to other people due to factors such as a criminal background or an unsafe driving record. Employers must then prove that they were not aware of these factors when they hired the employee. This is a difficult claim for employers to prove, which often leads to legal and financial losses in court.
The Cost of Negligence
Negligent hiring practices can cost businesses millions of dollars in legal settlements. In fact, one case involving a traffic fatality ended up costing a timber company $7 million in damages. In 2010, the family of an Arkansas truck driver who had been killed in a collision filed a lawsuit against a timber company claiming that the company used negligent hiring practices. A truck driver from the timber company was responsible for the fatal collision that killed the Arkansas truck driver. An Arkansas Federal Court jury found the timber company guilty of hiring the truck driver, who was found to have an unsafe driving record that he lied about when he applied for the job.
Burden of Proof
Employers who are faced with negligent hiring claims are at a significant disadvantage if they failed to take steps to learn about past problems or issues that high-risk job applicants have had. These employers must convince jurors that they were unaware of these problems when they hired the applicants in question. Taking steps to avoid this in the first place is less time-consuming and less expensive for businesses. It also helps reduce the risk of other negative effects of negligent hiring claims, such as bad publicity.
Avoiding Negligent Hiring
The timber company involved in the Arkansas court case could have avoided having to pay millions in damages if they had done a background screening on the truck driver before hiring him. A background check would have shown that the driver had his license revoked twice, along with other infractions. Background checks for prospective employees are a simple and cost-effective way for businesses to reduce the risk of being accused of negligent hiring practices. These background checks and screenings provide employers with an opportunity to discover whether prospective employees have had any problems or issues that could indicate that they might be a risk to others. This allows companies to avoid hiring high-risk employees who could end up hurting others accidentally or deliberately.
Protect your company from negligent hiring practices by conducting background screenings on prospective employees. For more information on employee background checks, please contact LaborChex.