Negligent Hiring: Hire at Your Own Risk
volume 3 number 2
The recent epidemic of work-place issues from harassment to violence has spawned a whole new kind of litigation - criminal prosecution aimed not just at offenders, but at the people who hire them in the first place. In our article, No News Is Bad News, in this issue, we discuss negligent non-disclosure suits which seek to punish employers who fail to reveal negative information about former employees. The flip side of negligent non-disclosure is negligent hiring. This means that employers who fail to conduct reference checks that might have prevented certain workers from being hired can be held liable if those workers become violent or threatening on the job.
This seems to shift the responsibility for workplace violence squarely and unfairly onto managers, whose efforts to get fair and accurate information about prospective employees is already hampered by the threat of defamation suits. The best advice we can offer is to use every possible legitimate strategy to thoroughly research a candidate and never allow yourself to become too busy or distracted to conduct reference checks.
If you do receive negative information, especially concerning threatening, harassing, or violent workplace behavior, it is important that you document your facts. It's also essential to find another source who can corroborate what you've been told. Disqualifying a candidate on the basis of a single disclosure is not only unfair, in many cases it's illegal.