Negligent Hiring Lawsuits: 13 Ways to Protect Your Company

July 28 2023
4 min read

Negligent lawsuits are an ongoing concern to employers as they face continued scrutiny of their hiring practices. Since employers are often on the losing end of these lawsuits, they must understand the risks of negligent hiring lawsuits, which can lead to serious consequences, including fines of hundreds of thousands of dollars, civil lawsuits, severe damage to reputations, and much more.

What is Negligent Hiring?

According to SHRM, negligent hiring is defined as “a claim that can be made against an employer when an employee causes harm to others and the employer should have known of the individual's potential to cause harm but did not take steps to mitigate the risk (i.e., not hiring the individual).” 

While laws surrounding negligent hiring claims, including hiring, supervision, and retention, vary from state to state, lawsuits usually contain the following elements:

  1. The employer didn’t use reasonable care when hiring the employee.
  2. The employee has dangerous propensities, lacks judgement, was not properly qualified, or was not properly trained for the position.
  3. The employer should have uncovered the employee’s dangerous propensities or lack of judgment during the hiring process. 
  4. The employer’s failure not to execute reasonable care resulted in the injury of another employee or customer.
  5. The employee’s actions were foreseeable.

Additional theories of negligent hiring that could be applicable in some jurisdictions include:

  1. Negligent retention, which is the assumption that an employer is responsible for knowing that a current employee is not qualified to be in a position. 
  2. An employer might be accused of negligent training if they fail to properly train an employee on the necessities of their position or equipment, which results in injury to another person.
  3. Negligent supervision occurs when an employer is accused of not properly supervising their employees in a responsible manner.

There are several professions that are particularly at risk of negligent hiring lawsuits, since they come into close contact with customers, including healthcare, real estate, childcare, education, law enforcement, etc. It is crucial that employers in these industries take extra steps to avoid lawsuits.

Negligent Hiring Cases Examples

The following occurrences are examples of potential negligent hiring cases:

  1. An employee assaults a customer or employee, and it is proven that the employer didn’t perform its due diligence before hiring the employee. 
  2. A school district fails to run a proper check on an employee who later assaults a child, and it is proven that the employer didn’t perform its due diligence before hiring the employee.  
  3. An employee is involved in a traffic accident that causes injury while driving under the influence. The employee has a history of DUIs, and it is proven that the employer didn’t uncover this information during the hiring process.

13 Ways to Protect Your Company from Negligent Hiring

We recommend several best practices to protect your company from negligent hiring lawsuits, including:

  1. Follow hiring best practices.
  2. Implement a structured, consistent background check program that validates applicants’ employment and criminal histories.
  3. Work with a trusted background check provider.
  4. Conduct thorough job interviews with applicants.
  5. Comply with laws and FCRA guidelines pertaining to background checks.
  6. Follow EEO and Fair Chance guidelines when hiring new employees.
  7. Implement a drug testing program as part of your hiring process.
  8. Carefully review each candidate’s skills and experience to make sure they are qualified for the job.
  9. Be observant of current employees and take complaints seriously.
  10. Run proper reports when applicable to the position, including driving record checks reports, credit checks where allowed, professional qualification verification, etc.
  11. Create a thorough job application that asks for details about candidates’ employment history, references, etc.
  12. Contact references from past positions.
  13. Review training procedures to ensure they are thorough and consistent.

A trusted background check provider can help companies avoid negligent hiring by helping their clients understand the legalities of conducting background checks. They also have processes in place to conduct checks on criminal history and verify employment history, references, licenses, and certifications.

Orange Tree is your trusted partner to help you avoid negligent hiring lawsuits. We offer an array of products, including criminal record searches, employment verification, professional credential verification, drug testing, driving record checks, SSN trace, etc. that can help minimize negligent hiring risks.

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*Please consult with qualified legal counsel when developing hiring and background screening procedure.

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