Rogers Towers: Employers: Have You Done a Background Check on Your Prospective Employees?

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[author: L. Javan Grant]

It can be an employer’s nightmare. You are sitting in your office, the telephone rings and it is the police department informing you that one of your employees has just committed an intentional tort (assault and battery, rape, murder, etc). You immediately pick up the telephone and call your attorney. While on the phone, your attorney asks you if you conducted a background investigation on the subject employee. You yell for your assistant to bring you the file, you furiously flip through the pages looking for the background check. You can not believe it, no background check was done.

Unfortunately, the above scenario happens quite frequently and can have severe consequences. However, following the below steps before hiring someone will help minimize an employer’s risk of being found liable for negligently hiring:

  • Obtain a criminal background investigation on the prospective employee. This request should be requested and obtained from the Department of Law Enforcement;
  • Make a reasonable effort to obtain and contact references for the prospective employee;
  • Require the prospective employee to complete a job application and specifically ask about prior criminal conduct/history and whether the prospective employee has ever been involved in a civil action for an intentional tort;
  • Obtain the prospective employee’s driving record;
  • Conduct an in-depth interview of the prospective employee;
  • Run a social media search on the prospective employee; and
  • Talk with the prospective employees former employers.

While you can never fully protect yourself from an employee’s intentional conduct, if the above steps are followed there will be a presumption that you, the employer, was not negligent in hiring that employee.