8 Tips to Guard Against Negligent Hiring

 

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When it comes to the hiring process, sometimes employers take shortcuts to save time, money, or simply because someone on the team is lazy.

You probably know a company that does not do background checks or have worked somewhere that simply requires an application, two forms of identification and pee in a cup, which is absolutely ridiculous.  You got to check people out!

Cutting corners in the hiring process is hiring blind. Truth is, applicants are taught to present their best self. Applicants embellish. And, applicants lie.  Furthermore, employers can be sued for negligent hiring if they hire someone they either knew or “should have known” was unfit, dangerous, or not qualified for a position.

What is Negligent Hiring?

According to USLegal.com, “negligent hiring is a claim made by an injured party against an employer based on the theory that the employer knew or should have known about the employee’s background which, if known, indicates a dangerous or untrustworthy character.”

 

Most HR pros know that negligent hiring claims can be avoided by pre-employment background checks, employee drug testing, and employment physical exams. Believe it or not, sometimes employers do not due their due diligence. Some do not complete a thorough background check.

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Take as an example, Reagan et al v. Dunaway Timber Company et al. In 2008, a family of an Arkansas truck driver was awarded $7 million in damages in a wrongful death lawsuit by an Arkansas Federal Court. In short, Dunaway Timber Company failed to properly screen its drivers. At the trial, evidence was introduced that the truck driver “lied on his application” about two license revocations and previous infractions. This could have been discovered with a background check that cost less than 30 bucks, but the employer did not do a thorough investigation. What is worse, nineteen days after the company negligently hired the driver, he had the fatal crash. The verdict was unanimous.

The jury found the company 75 percent liable and the truck driver 25 percent liable. Just to reiterate, the victim’s family was awarded $7 million. Now, that’s a pot of GOLD!

Here are a few tips to guard against negligent hiring.

  1. Complete a thorough pre-employment background check (beforehand)
    • Review the applicant’s resume for employment gaps in their work history
  2. Verify the applicant’s previous addresses
  3. Get the applicant’s consent to contact their former employers
    • Managers are usually not hesitant to discuss former workers with excellent records
  4. Follow up on professional references
  5. Do not investigate the worker’s past history of workers compensation claims, it’s illegal
  6. Check the applicants criminal record, if allowed by state law
  7. Always monitor employees performance after hiring
    • Once you become aware that someone is dangerous, you become liable (negligent hiring / negligent retention)
  8. Keep accurate documentation of your investigation
Source: David Siler, PHR – SPHR Study Guide

 

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Let me know, if you find these tips helpful. Feel free to like, comment, and share.

 

 

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